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Full text of "American notes for general circulation"

AMERICAN NOTES 



FOR 



GENERAL CIRCULATION. 



BY CHARLES DICKENS. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



LONDON: 
CHAPMAN AND HALL, 186, STRAND. 

MDCCCXLII. 



10NBOX : 
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS. 



I DEDICATE 

THIS BOOK 

TO THOSE FRIENDS OF MINE 

IN AMERICA, 

WHO, 

GIVING ME A WELCOME 

I MUST EVER GRATEFULLY 

AND PROUDLY REMEMBER, 

LEFT MY JUDGMENT 

FREE; 

AND WHO, 

LOVING THEIR COUNTRY, 
CAN BEAR THE TRUTH, 

WHEN IT IS TOLD 

GOOD HUMOUREDLY, 

AND IN A KIND SPIRIT. 



CONTENTS TO VOLUME L 



CHAPTER THE FIRST. 

PAG 8 

GOING AWAY 1 



CHAPTER THE SECOND. 
THE PASSAGE OUT .... . .20 

CHAPTER THE THIRD. 
BOSTON 57 

CHAPTER THE FOURTH. 

AN AMERICAN RAILROAD. LOWELL AND ITS 

FACTORY SYSTEM 145 



XVI CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH. 

MM 

WORCESTER. THE CONNECTICUT RIVER. HART 
FORD. NEW HAVEN. NEW HAVEN TO NEW 
YORK 170 



CHAPTER THE SIXTH. 
NEW YORK . 191 

CHAPTER THE SEVENTH. 
PHILADELPHIA, AND ITS SOLITARY PRISON . . 233 

CHAPTER THE EIGHTH. 

WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. AND THE 

PRESIDENT'S HOUSE .... . . .271 



GOING AWAY, 
AND THE PASSAGE OUT. 



CHAPTER THE FIRST. 

GOING AWAY. 

I SHALL never forget the one-fourth serious and 
three-fourths comical astonishment, with which, 
on the morning of the third of January eighteen- 
hundred-and-forty-two, I opened the door of, and 
put my head into, a " state-room " on board the 
Britannia steam-packet, twelve hundred tons bur 
den per register, bound for Halifax and Boston, 
and carrying Her Majesty's mails. 

That this state-room had been specially engaged 
for " Charles Dickens, Esquire, and Lady," was 
rendered sufficiently clear even to my scared 
intellect by a very small manuscript, announcing 
the fact, which was pinned on a very flat quilt, 
covering a very thin mattress, spread like a 

VOL. I. B 



GOING AWAY. 



surgical plaster on a most inaccessible shelf. 
But that this was the state-room concerning which 
Charles Dickens, Esquire, and Lady, had held 
daily and nightly conferences for at least four 
months preceding : that this could by any pos 
sibility be that small snug chamber of the imagin 
ation, which Charles Dickens, Esquire, with the 
spirit of prophecy strong upon him, had always 
foretold would contain at least one little sofa, 
and which his lady, with a modest yet most mag 
nificent sense of its limited dimensions, had from 
the first opined would not hold more than two 
enormous portmanteaus in some odd corner out of 
sight (portmanteaus which could now no more be 
got in at the door, not to say stowed away, than a 
giraffe could be persuaded or forced into a flower 
pot) : that this utterly impracticable, thoroughly 
hopeless, and profoundly preposterous box, had 
the remotest reference to, or connection with, 
those chaste and pretty, not to say gorgeous little 
bowers, sketched by a masterly hand, in the highly 
varnished lithographic plan hanging up in the 



GOING AWAY. & 

agent's counting-house in the city of, London: 
that this room of state, in short, could be anything 
but a pleasant fiction and cheerful jest of the 
captain's, invented and put in practice for the 
oetter relish and enjoyment of the real state-room 
presently to be disclosed : these were truths which 
I really could not, for the moment, bring my mind 
at all to bear upon or comprehend. And I sat 
down upon a kind of horsehair slab, or perch, of 
which there were two within ; and looked, without 
any expression of countenance whatever, at some 
friends who had come on board with us, and who 
were crushing their faces into all manner of shapes 
by endeavouring to squeeze them through the 
small doorway. 

We had experienced a pretty smart shock before 
coming below, which, but that we were the most 
sanguine people living, might have prepared us for 
the worst. The imaginative artist to whom I have 
already made allusion, has depicted in the same 
gr,eat work, a chamber of almost interminable 
perspective, furnished, as Mr. Robins would say, 

B 2 



4) GOING AWAY. 

in a style of more than Eastern splendour, and 
filled (but not inconveniently so) with groups of 
ladies and gentlemen, in the very highest state of 
enjoyment and vivacity. Before descending into 
the bowels of the ship, we had passed from the 
deck into a long narrow apartment, not unlike a 
gigantic hearse with windows in the sides ; having 
at the upper end a melancholy stove, at which 
three or four chilly stewards were warming their 
hands ; while on either side, extending down its 
whole dreary length, was a long, long, table, over 
each of which a rack, fixed to the low roof, and 
stuck full of drinking-glasses and cruet-stands, 
hinted dismally at rolling seas and heavy weather. 
I had not at that time seen the ideal presentment 
of this chamber which has since gratified me so 
much, but I observed that one of our friends 
who had made the arrangements for our voyage, 
turned pale on entering, retreated on the friend 
behind him, smote his forehead involuntarily, and 
said, below his breath, "Impossible! it cannot 
be ! " or words to that effect. He recovered him- 



GOING AWAY. 



5 



self however by a great effort, and after a pre 
paratory cough or two, cried, with a ghastly smile 
which is still before me, looking at the same time 
round the walls, " Ha ! the breakfast-room, 
steward eh 2 " We all foresaw what the answer 
must be : we knew the agony he suffered. He had 
often spoken of the saloon; had taken in and lived 
upon the pictorial idea ; had usually given us to 
understand, at home, that to form a just conception 
of it, it would be necessary to multiply the size and 
furniture of an ordinary drawing-room by seven, 
and then fall short of the reality. When the 
man in reply avowed the truth ; the blunt, 
remorseless, naked truth ; 6< This is the saloon, 
sir " he actually reeled beneath the blow. 

In persons who were so soon to part, and inter 
pose between their else daily communication the 
formidable barrier of many thousand miles of 
stormy space, and who were for that reason anxious 
to cast no other cloud, not even the passing 
shadow of a moment's disappointment or discomfi 
ture, upon the short interval of happy companion- 



6 GOING AWAY. 

ship that yet remained to -them in persons so 
situated, the natural transition from these first 
surprises was obviously into peals of hearty laugh 
ter ; and I can report that I, for one, being still 
seated upon the slab or perch before-mentioned, 
roared outright until the vessel rang again. Thus, 
in less than two minutes after coming upon it for 
the first time, we all by common consent agreed 
that this state-room was the pleasantest and most 
facetious and capital contrivance possible ; and 
that to have had it one inch larger, would have 
been quite a disagreeable and deplorable state of 
things. And with this ; and with showing how, 
by very nearly closing the door, and twining in and 
out like serpents, and by counting the little 
washing-slab as standing-room, we could manage 
to insinuate four people into it, all at one time ; 
and entreating each other to observe how very 
airy it was (in dock), and how there was a beauti 
ful port-hole which could be kept open all day 
(weather permitting), and how there was quite a 
large bull's-eye just over the looking-glass which 



GOING AWAY. 7 

would render shaving a perfectly easy and delight 
ful process (when the ship didn't roll too much) ; 
we arrived, at last, at the unanimous conclusion 
that it was rather spacious than otherwise : though 
I do verily believe that, deducting the two 
berths, one above the other, than which nothing 
smaller for sleeping in was ever made except cof 
fins, it was no bigger than one of those hackney 
cabriolets which have the door behind, and shoot 
their fares out, like sacks of coals, upon the pave 
ment. 

Having settled this point to the perfect satisfac 
tion of all parties, concerned and unconcerned, we 
sat down round the fire in the ladies' cabin just 
to try the effect. It was rather dark, certainly ; 
but somebody said, " of course it would be light, 
at sea," a proposition to which we all assented ; 
echoing " of course, of course ;" though it would 
be exceedingly difficult to say why we thought so. 
I remember, too, when we had discovered and 
exhausted another topic of consolation in the cir 
cumstance of this ladies 1 cabin adjoining our state- 



8 GOING AWAY. 

room, and the consequently immense feasibility of 
sitting there at all times and seasons, and had 
fallen into a momentary silence, leaning our faces 
on our hands and looking at the fire, one of our 
party said, with the solemn air of a man who 
had made a discovery, " What a relish mulled 
claret will have down here !" which appeared to 
strike us all most forcibly; as though there were 
something spicy and high-flavoured in cabins, 
which essentially improved that composition, and 
rendered it quite incapable of perfection anywhere 
else. 

There was a stewardess, too, actively engaged 
in producing clean sheets and tablecloths from the 
very entrails of the sofas, and from unexpected 
lockers, of such artful mechanism, that it made one's 
head ache to see them opened one after another, 
and rendered it quite a distracting circumstance to 
follow her proceedings, and to find that every 
nook and corner and individual piece of furni 
ture was something else besides what it pre 
tended to be, and was a mere trap and decep- 



GOING AWAY. 



tion and place of secret stowage, whose osten 
sible purpose was its least useful one. 

God bless that stewardess for her piously fraudu 
lent account of January voyages ! God bless her 
for her clear recollection of the companion passage 
of last year, when nobody was ill, and everybody 
danced from morning to night, and it was " a run " 
of twelve days, and a piece of the purest frolic, and 
delight, and jollity ! All happiness be with her for 
her bright face and her pleasant Scotch tongue, 
which had sounds of old Home in it for my fellow 
traveller; and for her predictions of fair winds and 
fine weather (all wrong, or I shouldn't be half so 
fond of her) ; and for the ten thousand small frag 
ments of genuine womanly tact, by which, without 
piecing them elaborately together, and patching 
them up into shape and form and case and pointed 
application, she nevertheless did plainly show that 
all young mothers on one side of the Atlantic were 
near and close at hand to their little children left 
upon the other ; and that what seemed to the un 
initiated a serious journey, was, to those who were 



10 GOING AWAY. 

in the secret, a mere frolic, to be sung about and 
whistled at! Light be her heart, and gay her 
merry eyes, for years ! 

The state-room had grown pretty fast ; but by 
this time it had expanded into something quite 
bulky, and almost boasted a bay-window to view 
the sea from. So we went upon deck again in 
high spirits ; and there, everything was in such a 
state of bustle and active preparation, that the 
blood quickened its pace, and whirled through 
one's veins on that clear frosty morning with in 
voluntary mirthfulness. For every gallant ship 
was riding slowly up and down, and every little 
boat was plashing noisily in the water ; and knots 
of people stood upon the wharf, gazing with a kind 
of " dread delight" on the far-famed fast Ameri 
can steamer ; and one party of men were " taking 
in the milk," or, in other words, getting the cow 
on board ; and another were filling the icehouses 
to the very throat with fresh provisions ; with 
butchers'meat and gardenstuff, pale sucking-pigs, 
calves' heads in scores, beef, veal, and pork, and 



GOING AWAY. 11 

poultry out of all proportion ; and others were 
coiling ropes, and busy with oakum yarns ; and 
others were lowering heavy packages into the 
hold ; and the purser's head was barely visible as 
it loomed in a state of exquisite perplexity from the 
midst of a vast pile of passengers 1 luggage ; and 
there seemed to be nothing going on anywhere, or 
uppermost in the mind of anybody, but prepara 
tions for this mighty voyage. This, with the 
bright cold sun, the bracing air, the crisply-curl 
ing water, the thin white crust of morning ice 
upon the decks which crackled with a sharp and 
cheerful sound beneath the lightest tread, was 
irresistible. And when, again upon the shore, we 
turned and saw from the vessel's mast her name 
signalled in flags of joyous colours, and fluttering 
by their side the beautiful American banner with 
its stars and stripes, the long three thousand 
miles and more, and, longer still, the six whole 
months of absence, so dwindled and faded, that 
the ship had gone out and come home again, and 
it was broad spring already in the Coburg Dock 
at Liverpool. 



12 GOING AWAY. 

I have not inquired among my medical ac 
quaintance, whether Turtle, and cold Punch, with 
Hock, Champagne, and Claret, and all the slight et 
cetera usually included in an unlimited order for a 
good dinner especially when it is left to the liberal 
construction of my faultless friend, Mr. Radley, 
of the Adelphi Hotel are peculiarly calculated 
to suffer a sea-change ; or whether a plain mutton- 
chop, and a glass or two of sherry, would be less 
likely of conversion into foreign and disconcerting 
material. My own opinion is, that whether one 
is discreet or indiscreet in these particulars, on 
the eve of a sea-voyage, is a matter of little conse 
quence ; and that, to use a common phrase, " it 
comes to very much the same thing in the end." 
Be this as it may, I know that the dinner of that 
day was undeniably perfect ; that it comprehended 
all these items, and a great many more ; and that 
we all did ample justice to it. And I know too, 
that, bating a certain tacit avoidance of any allu 
sion to to-morrow ; such as may be supposed to 
prevail between delicate-minded turnkeys, and a 



GOING AWAY. 13 

sensitive prisoner who is to be hanged next morn 
ing ; we got on very well, and, all things considered, 
were merry enough. 

When the morning the morning came, and 
we met at breakfast, it was curious to see how 
eager we all were to prevent a moment's pause in 
the conversation, and how astoundingly gay every 
body was : the forced spirits of each member of the 
little party having as much likeness to his natural 
mirth, as hot-house peas at five guineas the quart, 
resemble in flavour the growth of the dews, and 
air, and rain of Heaven. But as one o'clock, the 
hour for going aboard, drew near, this volubility 
dwindled away by little and little, despite the 
most persevering efforts to the contrary, until at 
last, the matter being now quite desperate, we 
threw off all disguise ; openly speculated upon 
where we should be this time to-morrow, this time 
next day, and so forth; and entrusted a vast 
number of messages to those who intended re 
turning to town that night, which were to be 
delivered at home and elsewhere without fail, 



GOING AWAY. 



within the very shortest possible space of time 
after the arrival of the railway train at Euston 
Square. And commissions and remembrances do 
so crowd upon one at such a time, that we were 
still busied with this employment when we found 
ourselves fused, as it were, into a dense conglo 
meration of passengers and passengers' friends 
and passengers 1 luggage, all jumbled together on 
the deck of a small steamboat, and panting and 
snorting off to the packet, which had worked out 
of dock yesterday afternoon and was now lying at 
her moorings in the river. 

And there she is ! all eyes are turned to where 
she lies, dimly discernible through the gathering 
fog of the early winter afternoon ; every finger is 
pointed in the same direction ; and murmurs of 
interest and admiration as " How beautiful she 
looks!" "How trim she is!" are heard on 
every side. Even the lazy gentleman with his hat 
on one side and his hands in his pockets, who has 
dispensed so much consolation by inquiring with a 
yawn of another gentleman whether he is " going 



GOIXG AWAY. 15 

across" as if it were a ferry even he condescends 
to look that way, and nod his head, as who should 
say u No mistake about that : " and not even the 
sage Lord Burleigh in his nod, included half so 
much as this lazy gentleman of might who has made 
the passage (as everybody on board has found out 
already ; it's impossible to say how) thirteen times 
without a single accident ! There is another passen 
ger very much wrapped-up, who has been frowned 
down by the rest, and morally trampled upon and 
crushed, for presuming to inquire with a timid 
interest how long it is since the poor President 
went down. He is standing close to the lazy gen 
tleman, and says with a faint smile that he believes 
She is a very strong Ship ; to which the lazy gen 
tleman, looking first in his questioner's eye and 
then very hard in the wind's, answers unexpectedly 
and ominously, that She need be. Upon this the 
lazy gentleman instantly falls very low in the popular 
estimation, and the passengers, with looks of de 
fiance, whisper to each other that he is an ass, and 
an impostor, and clearly don't know anything at all 
about it. 



16 GOING AWAY. 

But we are made fast alongside the packet, whose 
huge red funnel is smoking bravely, giving rich 
promise of serious intentions. Packing-cases, port 
manteaus, carpet-bags, and boxes, are already passed 
from hand to hand, and hauled on board with breath 
less rapidity. The officers, smartly dressed, are at 
the gangway handing the passengers up the side, 
and hurrying the men. In five minutes' time, the 
little steamer is utterly deserted, and the packet is 
beset and over-run by its late freight, who instantly 
pervade the whole ship, and are to be met with by 
the dozen in every nook and corner : swarming down 
below with their own baggage, and stumbling over 
other people's ; disposing themselves comfortably 
in wrong cabins, and creating a most horrible con 
fusion by having to turn out again ; madly bent 
upon opening locked doors, and on forcing a pas 
sage into all kinds of out-of-the-way places where 
there is no thoroughfare ; sending wild stewards, 
with elfin hair, to and fro upon the breezy decks 
on unintelligible errands, impossible of execution : 
and in short, creating the most extraordinary and 



GOING AWAY. 17 

bewildering tumult. In the midst of all this, 
the lazy gentleman, who seems to have no luggage 
of any kind not so much as a friend, even 
lounges up and down the hurricane-deck, coolly 
puffing a cigar ; and, as this unconcerned demea 
nour again exalts him in the opinion of those who 
have leisure to observe his proceedings, every time 
he looks up at the masts, or down at the decks, or 
over the side, they look there too, as wondering 
whether he sees anything wrong anywhere, and 
hoping that, in case he should, he will have the 
goodness to mention it. 

What have we here ? The captain's boat ! 
and yonder the captain himself. Now, by all our 
hopes and wishes, the very man he ought to be ! 
A well-made, tight-built, dapper little fellow ; with 
a ruddy face, which is a letter of invitation to 
shake him by both hands at once; and with a 
clear blue honest eye, that it does one good to see 
one^s sparkling image in. " Ring the bell ! " 
" Ding, ding, ding ! " the very bell is in a hurry. 
44 Now for the shore who's for the shore?" 
VOL. i. c 



18 GOING AWAY. 

" These gentlemen, I am sorry to say." They 
are away, and never said, Good b'ye. Ah ! now 
they wave it from the little boat. 4< Good b'ye ! 
Good b'ye ! " Three cheers from them ; three 
more from us ; three more from them : and they 
are gone. 

To and fro, to and fro, to and fro again a 
hundred times ! This waiting for the latest mail- 
bags is worse than all. If we could have gone off 
in the midst of that last burst, we should have 
started triumphantly : but to lie here, two hours 
and more, in the damp fog, neither staying at 
home nor going abroad, is letting one gradually 
down into the very depths of dulness and low 
spirits. A speck in the mist, at last ! That 's 
something. It is the boat we wait for ! That 's 
more to the purpose. The captain appears on the 
paddle-box with his speaking-trumpet; the officers 
take their stations ; all hands are on the alert ; 
the flagging hopes of the passengers revive ; the 
cooks pause in their savoury work, and look out 
with faces full of interest. The boat comes alonjr- 



GOING AWAY. 19 

side ; the bags are dragged in anyhow, and flung 
down for the moment anywhere. Three cheers 
more : and as the first one rings upon our ears, 
the vessel throbs like a strong giant that has just 
received the breath of life ; the two great wheels 
turn fiercely round for the first time ; and the 
noble ship, with wind and tide astern, breaks 
proudly through the lashed and foaming water. 



c2 



CHAPTER THE SECOND. 

THE PASSAGE OUT. 

WE all dined together that day; and a rather 
formidable party we were : no fewer than eighty- 
six strong. The vessel being pretty deep in the 
-water, with all her coals on board and so many 
passengers, and the weather being calm and quiet, 
there was but little motion ; so that before the 
dinner was half over, even those passengers who 
were most distrustful of themselves plucked up 
amazingly ; and those who in the morning had 
returned to the universal question, "Are you 
a good sailor?" a very decided negative, now 
either parried the inquiry with the evasive reply, 
<c Oh ! I suppose I'm no worse than anybody else ; " 
or, reckless of all moral obligations, answered 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 21 

boldly, " Yes : " and with some irritation too, as 
though they would add, " I should like to know 
what you see in me, sir, particularly, to justify 
suspicion ! " 

Notwithstanding this high tone of courage and 
confidence, I could not but observe that very few 
remained long over their wine ; and that everybody 
had an unusual love of the open air ; and that the 
favourite and most coveted seats were invariably 
those nearest to the door. The tea-table, too, 
was by no means as well attended as the dinner- 
table ; and there was less whist-playing than 
might have been expected. Still, with the excep 
tion of one lady, who had retired with some 
precipitation at dinner-time, immediately after 
being assisted to the finest cut of a very yellow 
boiled leg of mutton with very green capers, there 
were no invalids as yet ; and walking, and smoking, 
and drinking of brandy-and-water (but always in 
the open air), went on with unabated spirit, until 
eleven o'clock or thereabouts, when " turning in " 
no sailor of seven hours' experience talks of 



22 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

going to bed became the order of the night. The 
perpetual tramp of boot-heels on the decks gave 
place to a heavy silence, and the whole human 
freight was stowed away below, excepting a very 
few stragglers, like myself, who were probably, 
like me, afraid to go there. 

To one unaccustomed to such scenes, this is a 
very striking time on shipboard. Afterwards, and 
when its novelty had long worn off, it never ceased 
to have a peculiar interest and charm for me. 
The gloom through which the great black mass 
holds its direct and certain course ; the rushing 
water, plainly heard, but dimly seen ; the broad, 
white, glistening track, that follows in the vessel's 
wake ; the men on the look-out forward, who 
would be scarcely visible against the dark sky, but 
for their blotting out some score of glistening 
stars ; the helmsman at the wheel, with the illu 
minated card before him, shining, a speck of light 
amidst the darkness, like something sentient and 
of Divine intelligence ; the melancholy sighing of 
the wind through block, and rope, and chain ; the 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 23 

gleaming forth of .light from every crevice, nook, 
and tiny piece of glass about the decks, as though 
the ship were filled with fire in hiding, ready to burst 
through any outlet, wild with its resistless power of 
death and ruin. At first, too, and even when the 
hour, and all the objects it exalts, have come to be 
familiar, it is difficult, alone and thoughtful, to 
hold them to their proper shapes and forms. 
They change with the wandering fancy ; assume 
the semblance of things left far away ; put on the 
well-remembered aspect of favourite places dearly 
loved ; and even people them with shadows. Streets, 
houses, rooms; figures so like their usual occu 
pants, that they have startled me by their reality, 
which far exceeded, as it seemed to me, all power 
of mine to conjure up the absent ; have, many and 
many a time, at such an hour, grown suddenly out 
of objects with whose real look, and use, and 
purpose, I was as well acquainted as with my own 
two hands. 

My own two hands, and feet likewise, being very 
cold, however, on this particular occasion, I crept 



24 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

below at midnight. It was not exactly comfortable 
below. It was decidedly close ; and it was impos 
sible to be unconscious of the presence of that 
extraordinary compound of strange smells, which 
is to be found nowhere but on board ship, and 
which is such a subtle perfume that it seems to 
enter at every pore of the skin, and whisper of 
the hold. Two passengers 1 wives (one of them my 
own) lay already in silent agonies on the sofa ; and 
one lady's maid (my lady's) was a mere bundle on 
the floor, execrating her destiny, and pounding 
her curl-papers among the stray boxes. Everything 
sloped the wrong way : which in itself was an 
aggravation scarcely to be borne. I had left the 
door open, a moment before, in the bosom of a 
gentle declivity, and, when I turned to shut it, it 
was on the summit of a lofty eminence. Now 
every plank and timber creaked, as if the ship 
were made of wicker-work ; and now crackled, like 
an enormous fire of the driest possible twigs. 
There was nothing for it but bed; so I went 
to bed. 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 25 

It was pretty much the same for the next two 
days, with a tolerably fair wind and dry weather. 
I read in bed (but to this hour I don't know what) 
a good deal ; and reeled on deck a little ; drank 
cold brandy-and-water with an unspeakable dis 
gust, and ate hard biscuit perseveringly : not ill, 
but going to be. 

It is the third morning. I am awakened out of 
my sleep by a dismal shriek from my wife, who 
demands to know whether there 's any danger. 
I rouse myself, and look out of bed. The water- 
jug is plunging and leaping like a lively dolphin ; 
all the smaller articles are afloat, except my shoes, 
which are stranded on a carpet-bag, high and dry, 
like a couple of coal- barges. Suddenly I see them 
spring into the air, and behold the looking-glass, 
which is nailed to the wall, sticking fast upon the 
ceiling. At the same time the door entirely dis 
appears, and a new one is opened in the floor. 
Then I begin to comprehend that the state-room 
is standing on its head. 

Before it is possible to make any arrangement 



26 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

at all compatible with this novel state of things, 
the ship rights. Before one can say, " Thank 
Heaven ! " she wrongs again. Before one can cry 
she is wrong, she seems to have started forward, and 
to be a creature actively running of its own accord, 
with broken knees and failing legs, through every 
variety of hole and pitfall, and stumbling con 
stantly. Before one can so much as wonder, she 
takes a high leap into the air. Before she has 
well done that, she takes a deep dive into the 
water. Before she has gained the surface, she 
throws a summerset. The instant she is on her 
legs, she rushes backward. And so she goes on 
staggering, heaving, wrestling, leaping, diving, 
jumping, pitching, throbbing, rolling, and rock 
ing: and going through all these movements, 
sometimes by turns, and sometimes all together : 
until one feels disposed to roar for mercy. 

A steward passes. "Steward!" "Sir!" "What 
is the matter 2 what do you call this 2 " " Rather 
a heavy sea on, sir, and a head-wind." 

A head-wind ! Imagine a human face upon the 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 27 

vessel's prow, with fifteen thousand Sampsons in 
one bent upon driving her back, and hitting her 
exactly between the eyes whenever she attempts 
to advance an inch. Imagine the ship herself, 
with every pulse and artery of her huge body 
svvoln and bursting under this mal-treatment, 
sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, 
the sea roaring, the rain beating : all in furious 
array against her. Picture the sky both dark 
and wild, and the clouds, in fearful sympathy with 
the waves, making another ocean in the air. Add 
to all this, the clattering on deck and down below ; 
the tread of hurried feet; the loud hoarse shouts of 
seamen ; the gurgling in and out of water through 
the scuppers; with, every now and then, the striking 
of a heavy sea upon the planks above, with the 
deep, dead, heavy sound of thunder heard within 
a vault ; and there is the head- wind of that 
January morning. 

I say nothing of what may be called the domestic 
noises of the ship: such as the breaking of glass 
and crockery, the tumbling down of stewards, the 



28 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

gambols, overhead, of loose casks and truant dozens 
of bottled porter, and the very remarkable and far 
from exhilarating sounds raised in their various 
state-rooms by the seventy passengers who were too 
ill to get up to breakfast. I say nothing of them : 
for although I lay listening to this concert for three 
or four days, I don't think I heard it for more than 
a quarter of a minute, at the expiration of which 
term, I lay down again, excessively sea-sick. 

Not sea-sick, be it understood, in the ordinary 
acceptation of the term : I wish I had been : but in 
a form which I have never seen or heard described, 
though I have no doubt it is very common. I lay 
there, all the day long, quite coolly and con 
tentedly ; with no sense of weariness, with no 
desire to get up, or get better, or take the air ; 
with no curiosity, or care, or regret, of any sort or 
degree, saving that I think I can remember, in 
this universal indifference, having a kind of lazy 
joy of fiendish delight, if anything so lethargic 
can be dignified with the title in the fact of my 
wife being too ill to talk to me. If I may be 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 29 

allowed to illustrate my state of mind by such an 
example, I should say that I was exactly in the 
condition of the elder Mr. Willet, after the incur 
sion of the rioters into his bar at Chigwell. 
Nothing would have surprised me. If, in the mo 
mentary illumination of any ray of intelligence that 
may have come upon me in the way of thoughts of 
Home, a goblin postman, with a scarlet coat and 
bell, had come into that little kennel before me, 
broad awake in broad day, and, apologising for 
being damp through walking in the sea, had handed 
me a letter, directed to myself in familiar char 
acters, I am certain I should not have felt one atom 
of astonishment : I should have been perfectly 
satisfied. If Neptune himself had walked in, with 
a toasted shark on his trident, I should have looked 
upon the event as one of the very commonest 
everyday occurrences. 

Once once I found myself on deck. I don't 
know how I got there, or what possessed me to go 
there, but there I was ; and completely dressed 
too, with a huge pea-coat on, and a pair of boots 



30 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

such as no weak man in his senses could ever have 
got into. I found myself standing, when a gloam of 
consciousness came upon me, holding on to some 
thing. I don't know what. I think it was the 
boatswain : or it may have been the pump : or 
possibly the cow. I can't say how long I had 
been there ; whether a day or a minute. I recol 
lect trying to think about something (about any 
thing in the whole wide world, I was not parti 
cular) without the smallest effect. I could not 
even make out which was the sea, and which the 
sky ; for the horizon seemed drunk, and was flying 
wildly about, in all directions. Even in that inca 
pable state, however, I recognised the lazy gentle 
man standing before me : nautically clad in a suit 
of shaggy blue, with an oilskin hat. But I was 
too imbecile, although I knew it to be he, to 
separate him from his dress ; and tried to call 
him, I remember, Pilot. After another interval 
of total unconsciousness, I found he had gone, and 
recognised another figure in its place. It seemed 
to wave and fluctuate before me as though I saw 



THE PASSAGE OUT. SI 

it reflected in an unsteady looking-glass; but I 
knew it for the captain ; and such was the cheerful 
influence of his face, that I tried to smile : yes, 
even then I tried to smile. I saw by his gestures 
that he addressed me; but it was a long time before 
I could make out that he remonstrated against 
my standing up to my knees in water as I was ; 
of course I don't know why. I tried to thank 
him, but couldn't. I could only point to my 
boots or wherever I supposed my boots to be 
and say in a plaintive voice, " Cork soles :" at the 
same time endeavouring, I am told, to sit down in 
the pool. Finding that I was quite insensible, and 
for the time a maniac, he humanely conducted me 
below. 

There I remained until I got better : suffering, 
whenever I was recommended to eat anything, an 
amount of anguish only second to that which is 
said to be endured by the apparently drowned, in 
the process of restoration to life. One gentleman 
on board had a letter of introduction to me from 
a mutual friend in London. He sent it below 



32 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

with his card, on the morning of the head-wind ; 
and I was long troubled with the idea that he 
might be up, and well, and a hundred times a 
day expecting me to call upon him in the saloon. 
I imagined him one of those cast-iron images I 
will not call them men who ask, with red faces 
and lusty voices, what sea-sickness means, and 
whether it really is as bad as it is represented to 
be. This was very torturing indeed ; and I don't 
think I ever felt such perfect gratification and 
gratitude of heart, as I did when I heard from the 
ship's doctor that he had been obliged to put a 
large mustard poultice on this very gentleman's 
stomach. I date my recovery from the receipt of 
that intelligence. 

It was materially assisted though, I have no 
doubt, by a heavy gale of wind, which came slowly 
up at sunset, when we were about ten days out, 
and raged with gradually increasing fury until 
morning, saving that it lulled for an hour a little 
before midnight. There was something in the 
unnatural repose of that hour, and in the after 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 33 

gathering of the storm, so inconceivably awful and 
tremendous, that its bursting into full violence 
was almost a relief. 

The labouring of the ship in the troubled sea on 
this night I shall never forget. " Will it ever be 
worse than this 2" was a question I had often 
heard asked, when everything was sliding and 
bumping about, and when it certainly did seem 
difficult to comprehend the possibility of anything 
afloat being more disturbed, without toppling over 
and going down. But what the agitation of a 
steam-vessel is, on a bad winter's night in the wild 
Atlantic, it is impossible for the most vivid imagi 
nation to conceive. To say that she is flung down 
on her side in the waves, with her masts dipping 
into them, and that, springing up again, she rolls 
over on the other side, until a heavy sea strikes her 
with the noise of a hundred great guns, and hurls 
her back that she stops, and staggers, and shivers, 
as though stunned, and then, with a violent throb 
bing at her heart, darts onward like a monster 
goaded into madness, to be beaten down, and 

VOL. I. D 



34 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

battered, and crushed, and leaped on by the angry 
sea that thunder, lightning, hail, and rain, and 
wind, are all in fierce contention for the mastery 
that every plank has its groan, every nail its shriek, 
and every drop of water in the great ocean its 
howling voiceis nothing. To say that all is 
grand, and all appalling and horrible in the last 
degree, is nothing. Words cannot express it. 
Thoughts cannot convey it. Only a dream can 
call it up again, in all its fury, rage, and passion. 

And yet, in the very midst of these terrors, I was 
placed in a situation so exquisitely ridiculous, that 
even then I had as strong a sense of its absurdity 
as I have now : and could no more help laughing 
than I can at any other comical incident, happen 
ing under circumstances the most favourable to its 

O 

enjoyment. About midnight we shipped a sea, 
which forced its way through the skylights, burst 
open the doors above, and came raging and roar 
ing down into the ladies' cabin, to the unspeakable 
consternation of my wife and a little Scotch lady 
who, by the way, had previously sent a message 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 35 

to the captain by the stewardess, requesting him, 
with her compliments, to have a steel conductor 
immediately attached to the top of every mast, 
and to the chimney, in order that the ship might 
not be struck by lightning. They, and the hand 
maid before mentioned, being in such ecstacies of 
fear that I scarcely knew what to do with them, 
I naturally bethought myself of some restorative 
or comfortable cordial ; and nothing better occur 
ring to me, at the moment, than hot brandy-and- 
water, I procured a tumbler-full without delay. 
It being impossible to stand or sit without holding 
on, they were all heaped together in one corner of 
a long sofa a fixture extending entirely across the 
cabin where they clung to each other in mo 
mentary expectation of being drowned. When 
I approached this place with my specific, and 
was about to administer it, with many consolatory 
expressions, to the nearest sufferer, what was my 
dismay to see them all roll slowly down to the 
other end ! And when I staggered to that end, 
and held out the glass once more, how immensely 

D 2 



36 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

baffled were my good intentions by the ship giving 
another lurch, and their all rolling back again ! 
I suppose I dodged them up and down this sofa, 
for at least a quarter of an hour, without reach 
ing them once ; and by the time I did catch them, 
the brandy-and-water was diminished, by constant 
spilling, to a tea- spoonful. To complete the group, 
it is necessary to recognise in this disconcerted 
dodger, a very pale individual, who had shaved his 
beard and brushed his hair, last, at Liverpool : 
and whose only articles of dress (linen not included) 
were a pair of dreadnought trousers ; a blue jacket, 
formerly admired upon the Thames at Richmond ; 
no stockings ; and one slipper. 

Of the outrageous antics performed by that ship 
next morning ; which made bed a practical joke, 
and getting up, by any process short of falling out, 
an impossibility ; I say nothing. But anything 
like the utter dreariness and desolation that met 
my eyes when I, literally, " tumbled up " on deck 
at noon, I never saw. Ocean and sky were all of 
one dull, heavy, uniform, lead colour. There was 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 37 

no extent of prospect even over the dreary waste 
that lay around us, for the sea ran high, and the 
horizon encompassed us like a large black hoop. 
Viewed from the air, or some tall bluff on shore, 
it would have been imposing and stupendous no 
doubt ; but seen from the wet and rolling decks, 
it only impressed one giddily and painfully. In the 
gale of last night the life-boat had been crushed 
by one blow of the sea like a walnut-shell ; and 
there it hung dangling in the air : a mere faggot 
of crazy boards. The planking of the paddle-boxes 
had been torn sheer away. The wheels were 
exposed and bare ; and they whirled and dashed 
their spray about the decks at random. Chimney, 
white with crusted salt ; topmasts struck ; storm- 
sails set; rigging all knotted, tangled, wet, and 
drooping : a gloomier picture it would be hard to 
look upon. 

I was now comfortably established by courtesy 
in the ladies' cabin, where, besides ourselves, there 
were only four other passengers. First, the little 
Scotch lady before-mentioned, on her way to join 



38 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

her husband at New York, who had settled there 
three years before. Secondly and thirdly, an 
honest young Yorkshireman, connected with some 
American house ; domiciled in that same city, and 
carrying thither his beautiful young wife to whom 
he had been married but a fortnight, and who was 
the fairest specimen of a comely English country 
girl I have ever seen. Fourthly, fifthly, and lastly, 
another couple : newly-married too, if one might 
judge from the endearments they frequently inter 
changed : of whom I know no more than that 
they were rather a mysterious, run-away kind of 
couple ; that the lady had great personal attrac 
tions also ; and that the gentleman carried more 
guns with him than Robinson Crusoe, wore a 
shooting-coat, and had two great dogs on board. 
On further consideration, I remember that he tried 
hot roast pig and bottled ale as a cure for sea 
sickness ; and that he took these remedies (usually 
in bed) day after day, with astonishing persever 
ance. I may add, for the information of the 
curious, that they decidedly failed. 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 39 

The weather continuing obstinately and almost 
unprecedentedly bad, we usually straggled into this 
cabin, more or less faint and miserable, about an 
hour before noon, and lay down on the sofas to 
recover ; during which interval, the captain would 
look in to communicate the state of the wind, the 
moral certainty of its changing to-morrow (the 
weather is always going to improve to-morrow, at 
sea), the Vessel's rate of sailing, and so forth. Ob 
servations there were none to tell us of, for there 
was no sun to take them by. But a description 
of one day will serve for all the rest. Here it is. 

The captain being gone, we compose ourselves 
to read, if the place be light enough ; and if not, 
we doze and talk alternately. At one, a bell rings, 
and the stewardess comes down with a steaming 
dish of baked potatoes, and another of roasted 
apples; and plates of pig's face, cold ham, salt 
beef ; or perhaps a smoking mess of rare hot col- 
lops. We fall to upon these dainties ; eat as much 
as we can (we have great appetites now) ; and are 
as long as possible about it. If the fire will burn 



40 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

(it will sometimes) we are pretty cheerful. If it 
won't, we all remark to each other that it 's very 
cold, rub our hands, cover ourselves with coats and 
cloaks, and lie down again to doze, talk, and read 
(provided as aforesaid), until dinner-time. At five, 
another bell rings, and the stewardess reappears 
with another dish of potatoes boiled, this time 
and store of hot meat of various kinds : not for 
getting the roast pig, to be taken medicinally. 
We sit down at table again (rather more cheer 
fully than before) ; prolong the meal with a rather 
mouldy dessert of apples, grapes, and oranges ; and 
drink our wine and brandy-and-water. The bottles 
and glasses are still upon the table, and the 
oranges and so forth are rolling about according 
to their fancy and the ship^s way, when the doctor 
comes down, by special nightly invitation, to join 
our evening rubber : immediately on whose arrival 
we make a party at whist, and as it is a rough 
night and the cards will not lie on the cloth, we 
put the tricks in our pockets as we take them. At 
whist we remain with exemplary gravity (deduct- 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 41 

ing a short time for tea and .toast) until eleven 
o^clock, or thereabouts ; when the captain comes 
down again, in a sou'-wester hat tied under his 
chin, andapilot-coat: making the ground wet where 
he stands. By this time the card-playing is over, 
and the bottles and glasses are again upon the 
table ; and after an hour's pleasant conversa 
tion about the ship, the passengers, and things in 
general, the captain (who never goes to bed, and 
is never out of humour) turns up his coat collar for 
the deck again ; shakes hands all round ; and goes 
laughing out into the weather as merrily as to a 
birth-day party. 

As to daily news, there is no dearth of that 
commodity. This passenger is reported to have 
lost fourteen pounds at Vingt-et-un in the saloon 
yesterday ; and that passenger drinks his bottle of 
champagne every day, and how he does it (being 
only a clerk), nobody knows. The head engineer 
has distinctly said that there never was such times 
meaning weather and four good hands are ill, and 
have given in, dead beat. Several berths are full 



42 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

of water, and all the cabins are leaky. The ship's 
cook, secretly swigging damaged whiskey, has been 
found drunk ; and has been played upon by the 
fire-engine until quite sober. All the stewards 
have fallen down stairs at various dinner-times, 
and go about with plasters in various places. The 
baker is ill, and so is the pastry-cook. A new 
man, horribly indisposed, has been required to fill 
the place of the latter officer; and has been propped 
and jammed up with empty casks in a little house 
upon deck, and commanded to roll out pie-crust, 
which he protests (being highly bilious) it is death 
to him to look at. News ! A dozen murders on 
shore would lack the interest of these slight inci 
dents at sea. 

Divided between our rubber and such topics as 
these, we were running (as we thought) into Hali 
fax Harbour, on the fifteenth night, with little 
wind and a bright moon indeed, we had made the 
Light at its outer entrance, and put the pilot in 
charge when suddenly the ship struck upon a 
bank of mud. An immediate rush on deck took 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 43 

place of course ; the sides were crowded in an 
instant ; and for a few minutes we were in as lively 
a state of confusion as the greatest lover of disorder 
would desire to see. The passengers, and guns, 
and water- casks, and other heavy matters, being 
all huddled together aft, however, to lighten her 
in the head, she was soon got off; and after some 
driving on towards an uncomfortable line of objects 
(whose vicinity had been announced very early in 
the disaster by a loud cry of " Breakers a-head !") 
and much backing of paddles, and heaving of 
the lead into a constantly decreasing depth of 
water, we dropped anchor in a strange outlandish- 
looking nook which nobody on board could recog 
nise, although there was land all about us, and so 
close that we could plainly see the waving branches 
of the trees. 

It was strange enough, in the silence -of midnight, 
and the dead stillness that seemed to be created 
by the sudden and unexpected stoppage of the 
engine which had been clanking and blasting in 
our ears incessantly for so many days, to watch 



44 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

the look of blank astonishment expressed in every 
face : beginning with the officers, tracing it through 
all the passengers, and descending to the very 
stokers and furnace-men, who emerged from below, 
one by one, and clustered together in a smoky 
group about the hatchway of the engine-room, 
comparing notes in whispers. After throwing up 
a few rockets and firing signal-guns in the hope of 
being hailed from the land, or at least of seeing 
a light but without any other sight or sound pre 
senting itself it was determined to send a boat on 
shore. It was amusing to observe how very kind 
some of the passengers were, in volunteering to go 
ashore in this same boat : for the general good, of 
course : not by any means because they thought 
the ship in an unsafe position, or contemplated the 
possibility of her heeling over in case the tide were 
running out. Nor was it less amusing to remark 
how desperately unpopular the poor pilot became 
in one short minute. He had had his passage out 
from Liverpool, and during the whole voyage had 
been quite a notorious character, as a teller of 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 45 

anecdotes and cracker of jokes. Yet here were 
the very men who had laughed the loudest at his 
jests, now flourishing their fists in his face, loading 
him with imprecations, and defying him to his 
teeth as a villain ! % 

The boat soon shoved off, with a lantern and 
sundry blue lights on board ; and in less than an 
hour returned; the officer in command bringing 
with him a tolerably tall young tree, which he had 
plucked up by the roots, to satisfy certain distrust 
ful passengers whose minds misgave them that 
they were to be imposed upon and shipwrecked, 
and who would on no other terms believe that he 
had been ashore, or had done anything but frau 
dulently row a little way into the mist, specially to 
deceive them, and compass their deaths. Our 
captain had foreseen from the first that we must 
be in a place called the Eastern Passage ; and so 
we were. It was about the last place in the world 
in which we had any business or reason to be, but 
a sudden fog, and some error on the pilot's part, 
were the cause. We were surrounded by banks, 



46 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

and rocks, and shoals of all kinds, but had happily 
drifted, it seemed, upon the only safe speck that 
was to be found thereabouts. Eased by this 
report, and by the assurance that the tide was past 
the ebb, we turned in at three o'clock in the 
morning. 

I was dressing about half-past nine next day, 
when the noise above hurried me on deck. When 
I had left it over-night, it was dark, foggy, and 
damp, and there were bleak hills all round us. 
Now, we were gliding down a smooth, broad 
stream, at the rate of eleven miles an hour : our 
colors flying gaily; our crew rigged out in their 
smartest clothes ; our officers in uniform again ; 
the sun shining as on a brilliant April day in 
England; the land stretched out on either side, 
streaked with light patches of snow ; white wooden 
houses ; people at their doors ; telegraphs work 
ing ; flags hoisted ; wharfs appearing ; ships ; 
quays crowded with people ; distant noises ; shouts ; 
men and boys running down steep places towards 
the pier : all more bright and gay and fresh to our 



THE PASSAGE OCT. 47 

unused eyes than words can paint them. We 
came to a wharf, paved with uplifted faces ; got 
alongside, and were made fast, after some shouting 
and straining of cables; darted, a score of us, 
along the gangway, almost as soon as it was thrust 
out to meet us, and before it had reached the ship 
and leaped upon the firm glad earth again ! 

I suppose this Halifax would have appeared an 
Elysium, though it had been a curiosity of ugly 
dulness. But I carried away with me a most 
pleasant impression of the town and its inhabit 
ants, and have preserved it to this hour. Nor was 
it without regret that I came home, without hav 
ing found an opportunity of returning thither, and 
once more shaking hands with the friends I made 
that day. 

It happened to be the opening of the Legislative 

Council and General Assembly, at which cere- 



monial the forms observed on the commencement 
of a new Session of Parliament in England were 
so closely copied, and so gravely presented on a 
small scale, that it was like looking at West- 



48 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

minster through the wrong end of a telescope. 
The governor, as her Majesty's representative, 
delivered what may be called the Speech from 
the Throne. He said what he had to say man 
fully and well. The military band outside the 
building struck up " God Save the Queen" with 
great vigour before his Excellency had quite 
finished; the people shouted; the in's rubbed 
their hands ; the out's shook their heads ; the 
Government party said there never was such a 
good speech ; the opposition declared there never 
was such a bad one ; the Speaker and members of 
the House of Assembly withdrew from the bar to 
say a great deal among themselves and do a little : 
and, in short, everything went on, and promised 
to go on, just as it does at home upon the like 
occasions. 

The town is built on the side of a hill, the 



highest point being commanded by a strong 
fortress, not yet quite finished. Several streets of 
good breadth and appearance extend from its 
summit to the water-side, and are intersected by 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 49 

cross streets running parallel with the river. The 
houses are chiefly of wood. The market is abun 
dantly supplied ; and provisions are exceedingly 
cheap. The weather being unusually mild at that 
time for the season of the year, there was no 
sleighing ; but there were plenty of those vehicles 
in yards and bye-places, and some of them, from 
the gorgeous quality of their decorations, might 
have " gone on" without alteration as triumphal 
cars in a melo-drama at Astley's. The day was 
uncommonly fine ; the air bracing and healthful ; 
the whole aspect of the town cheerful, thriving, 
and industrious. 

We lay there seven hours, to deliver and ex 
change the mails. At length, having collected all 
our bags and all our passengers (including two or 
three choice spirits, who, having indulged too freely 
in oysters and champagne, were found lying insen 
sible on their backs in unfrequented streets), the 
engines were again put in motion, and we stood 
off for Boston. 

Encountering squally weather again in the Bay 
VOL. i. E 



50 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

of Fundy, we tumbled and rolled about as usual all 
that night and all next day. On the next after 
noon, that is to say, on Saturday* the twenty-second 
of January, an American pilot-boat came alongside, 
and soon afterwards the Britannia steam-packet, 
from Liverpool, eighteen days out, was telegraphed 
at Boston. " 

The indescribable interest with which I strained 
my eyes, as the first patches of American soil 
peeped like molehills from the green sea, and fol 
lowed them, as they swelled, by slow and almost 
imperceptible degrees, into a continuous line of 
coast, can hardly be exaggerated. A sharp keen 
wind blew dead against us ; a hard frost prevailed 
on shore ; and the cold was most severe. Yet the 
air was so intensely clear, and dry, and bright, 
that the temperature was not only endurable, but 
delicious. 

How I remained on deck, staring about me 
until we came alongside the dock, and how, though 
I had had as many eyes as Argus, I should have 
had them all wide open, and all employed on new 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 51 

objects are topics which I will not prolong this 
chapter to discuss. Neither will I more than hint at 
my foreigner-like mistake, in supposing that a party 
of most active persons, who scrambled on board at 
the peril of their lives as we approached the 
wharf, were newsmen, answering to that indus 
trious class at home ; whereas, despite the leathern 
wallets of news slung about the necks of some, and 
the broad sheets in the hands of all, they were- 
Editors, who boarded ships in person (as one 
gentleman in a worsted comforter informed me),, 
c; because they liked the excitement of it." Suffice 
it in this place to say, that one of these invaders, 
with a ready courtesy for which I thank him here 
most gratefully, went on before to order rooms at 
the hotel ; and that when I followed, as I soon 
did, I found myself rolling through the long 
passages with an involuntary imitation of the gait 
of Mr. T. P. Cooke, in a new nautical melo 
drama. 

" Dinner, if you please," said I to the waiter. 

E 2 



52 THE PASSAGE OUT. 

" When ? " said the waiter. 

"As quick as possible," said I. 

" Right away I " said the waiter. 

After a moment's hesitation, I answered, " No," 
at hazard. 

" Not right away \ " cried the waiter, with an 
amount of surprise that made me start. 

I looked at him doubtfully, and returned, " No; 
I would rather have it in this private room. I 
like it very much." 

At this, I really thought the waiter must have 
gone out of his mind : as I believe he would have 
done, but for the interposition of another man, 
who whispered in his ear, " Directly/' 

" Well ! and that's a fact ! " said the waiter, 
looking helplessly at me : " Right away." 

I saw now that " Right away " and c< Directly " 
were one and the same thing. So I reversed 
my previous answer, and sat down to dinner 
in ten minutes afterwards; and a capital dinner 
it was. 



THE PASSAGE OUT. 53 

The hotel (a very excellent one), is called the 
Tremont House. It has more galleries, colon 
nades, piazzas, and passages than I can remember, 
or the reader would believe ; and is some trifle 
smaller than Bedford Square. 



BOSTON. 



CHAPTER THE THIRD. 

BOSTON. 

IN all the public establishments of America, the 
utmost courtesy prevails. Most of our Depart 
ments are susceptible of considerable improvement 
in this respect, but the Custom-house above all 
others would do well to take example from the 
United States and render itself somewhat less 
odious and offensive to foreigners. The servile 
rapacity of the French officials is sufficiently con 
temptible ; but there is a surly boorish incivility 
about our men, alike disgusting to all persons who 
fall into their hands, and discreditable to the 
nation that keeps such ill-conditioned curs snarling 
about its gates. 



58 BOSTON. 

When I landed in America, I could not help 
being strongly impressed with the contrast their 
Custom-house presented, and the attention, polite 
ness, and good humour with which its officers dis 
charged their duty. 

As we did not land at Boston, in consequence 
of some detention at the wharf, until after dark, 
I received my first impressions of the city in walk 
ing down to the Custom-house on the morning 
after our arrival, which was Sunday. I am afraid 
to say, by the way, how many offers of pews and 
seats in church for that morning were made to us, 
by formal note of invitation, before we had half 
finished our first dinner in- America, but if I may 
be allowed to make a moderate guess, without 
going into nicer calculation, I should say that at 
loast as many sittings were proffered us, as would 
have accommodated a score or two of grown-up 
families. The number of creeds and forms of 
religion to which the pleasure of our company was 
requested, was in very fair proportion. 

Not being able, in the absence of any change of 



BOSTON. 59 

clothes, to go to church that day, we were com 
pelled to decline these kindnesses, one and all; 
and 1 was reluctantly obliged to forego the delight 
of hearing Dr. Channing, who happened to preach 
that morning for the first time in a very long 
interval. I mention the name of this distinguished 
and accomplished man (with whom I soon after 
wards had the pleasure of becoming personally 
acquainted), that I may have the gratification of 
recording my humble tribute of admiration and 
respect for his high abilities and character ; and 
for the bold philanthropy with which he has ever 
opposed himself to that most hideous blot and foul 
disgrace Slavery. 

To return to Boston. When I got into the 
streets upon this Sunday morning, the air was so 
clear, the houses were so bright and gay; the 
signboards were painted in such gaudy colours ; the 
gilded letters were so very golden ; the bricks were 
so very red, the stone was so very white, the blinds 
and area railings were so very green, the knobs and 
plates upon the street doors so marvellously bright 



60 BOSTON. 

and twinkling ; and all so slight and unsubstantial 
in appearance that every thoroughfare in the city 
looked exactly like a scene in a pantomime. It 
rarely happens in the business streets that a trades 
man, if I may venture to call anybody a trades 
man, where everybody is a merchant, resides above 
his store ; so that many occupations are often 
carried on in one house, and the whole front is 
covered with boards and inscriptions. As I walked 
along, I kept glancing up at these boards, confi 
dently expecting to see a few of them change into 
something ; and I never turned a corner suddenly 
without looking out for the clown and pantaloon, 
who, I had no doubt, were hiding in a doorway or 
behind some pillar close at hand. As to Harlequin 
and Columbine, I discovered immediately that 
they lodged (they are always looking after lodg 
ings in a pantomime) at a very small clock-maker's, 
one story high, near the hotel ; which, in addition 
to various symbols and devices, almost covering 
the whole front, had a great dial hanging out to 
be jumped through, of course. 



BOSTON. 61 

The suburbs are, if possible, even more unsub 
stantial-looking than the city. The white wooden 
houses (so white that it makes one wink to look 
at them), with their green jalousie blinds, are so 
sprinkled and dropped about in all directions, 
without seeming to have any root at all in the 
ground ; and the small churches and chapels are 
so prim, and bright, and highly varnished ; that I 
almost believed the whole affair could be taken up 
piecemeal like a child's toy, and crammed into a 
little box. 

The city is a beautiful one, and cannot fail, 
I should imagine, to impress all strangers very 
favourably. The private dwelling-houses are, for 
the most part, large and elegant ; the shops ex 
tremely good ; and the public buildings handsome. 
The State House is built upon the summit of a 
hill, which rises gradually at first, and afterwards 
by a steep ascent, almost from the water's edge. 
In front is a green inclosure, called the Common. 
The site is beautiful : and from the top there is a 
charming panoramic view of the whole town and 



62 BOSTOX. 

neighbourhood. In addition to a variety of 
commodious offices, it contains two handsome 
chambers : in one the House of Representatives 
of the State hold their meetings ; in the other, the 
Senate. Such proceedings as I saw here, were 
conducted with perfect gravity and decorum ; and 
were certainly calculated to inspire attention and 
respect. 

There is no doubt that much of the intellectual 
refinement and superiority of Boston, is referable 
to the quiet influence of the University of Cam 
bridge, which is within three or four miles of the 
city. The resident professors at that university 
are gentlemen of learning and varied attainments ; 
and are, without one exception that I can call to 
mind, men who would shed a grace upon, and do 
honour to, any society in the civilised world. 
Many of the resident gentry in Boston and its 
neighbourhood, and I think I am not mistaken in 
adding, a large majority of those who are attached 
to the liberal professions there, have been educated 
at this same school. Whatever the defects of 



BOSTON. 63 

American universities may be, they disseminate no 
prejudices ; rear no bigots ; dig up the buried 
ashes of no old superstitions ; never interpose 
between the people and their improvement; ex 
clude no man because of his religious opinions ; 
above all, in their whole course of study and in 
struction, recognise a world, and a broad one too, 
lying beyond the college walls. 

It was a source of inexpressible pleasure to me 
to observe the almost imperceptible, but not less 
certain effect, wrought by this institution among 
the small community of Boston ; and to note at 
every turn the humanising tastes and desires it 
has engendered; the affectionate friendships to 
which it has given rise ; the amount of vanity and 
prejudice it has dispelled. The golden calf they 
worship at Boston is a pigmy compared with the 
giant effigies set up in other parts of that vast 
counting-house which lies beyond the Atlantic ; and 
the almighty dollar sinks into something compara 
tively insignificant, amidst a whole Pantheon of 
better gods. 



64? BOSTON. 

Above all, I sincerely believe that the public 
institutions and charities of this capital of Massa 
chusetts are as nearly perfect, as the most con 
siderate wisdom, benevolence, and humanity, can 
make them. I never in my life was more affected 
by the contemplation of happiness, under circum 
stances of privation and bereavement, than in my 
visits to these establishments. 

It is a great and pleasant feature of all such 
institutions in America, that they are either sup 
ported by the State or assisted by the State ; or 
(in the event of their not needing its helping hand) 
that they act in concert with it, and are emphati 
cally the people's. I cannot but think, with a view 
to the principle and its tendency to elevate or 
depress the character of the industrious classes, 
that a Public Charity is immeasurably better than 
a Private Foundation, no matter how munificently 
the latter may be endowed. In our own country, 
where it has not, until within these later days, been 
a very popular fashion with governments to dis 
play any extraordinary regard for the great mass 



BOSTON. 65 



of the people or to recognise their existence as 
improveable creatures, private charities, unex 
ampled in the history of the earth, have arisen, 
to do an incalculable amount of good among the 
destitute and afflicted. But the government of 
the country, having neither act nor part in them, 
is not in the receipt of any portion of the gratitude 
they inspire ; and, offering very little shelter or 
relief beyond that which is to be found in the 
workhouse and the jail, has come, not unnaturally, 
to be looked upon by the poor rather as a stern 
master, quick to correct and punish, than a kind 
protector, merciful and vigilant in their hour of 
need. 

The maxim that out of evil cometh good, is 
strongly illustrated by these establishments at 
home ; as the records of the Prerogative Office in 
Doctors' Commons can abundantly prove. Some 
immensely rich old gentleman or lady, surrounded 
by needy relatives, makes, upon a low average, a 
will a-week. The old gentleman or lady, never 
very remarkable in the best of times for good 

VOL. I. F 



66 BOSTON. 

temper, is full of aches and pains from head to 
foot ; full of fancies and caprices ; full of spleen, 
distrust, suspicion, and dislike. To cancel old wills, 
and invent new ones, is at last the sole business of 
such a testator's existence ; and relations and 
friends (some of whom have been bred up dis 
tinctly to inherit a large share of the property, 
and have been, from their cradles, specially dis 
qualified from devoting themselves to any useful 
pursuit, on that account) are so often and so un 
expectedly and summarily cut off, and re-instated, 
and cut off again, that the whole family, down to 
the remotest cousin, is kept in a perpetual fever. 
At length it becomes plain that the old lady or 
gentleman has not long to live ; and the plainer this 
becomes, the more clearly the old lady or gentle 
man perceives that everybody is in a conspiracy 
against their poor old dying relative; wherefore 
the old lady or gentleman makes another last 
will positively the last this time conceals the 
same in a china tea-pot, and expires next day. 
Then it turns out, that the whole of the real and 



BOSTON. 67 

personal estate is divided between half-a-dozen 
charities ; and that the dead and gone testator 
has in pure spite helped to do a great deal of 
good, at the cost of an immense amount of evil 
passion and misery. 

The Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asy 
lum for the Blind, at Boston, is superintended 
by a body of trustees who make an annual report 
to the corporation. The indigent blind of that 
state are admitted gratuitously. Those from the 
adjoining state of Connecticut, or from the states 
of Maine, Vermont, or New Hampshire, are 
admitted by a warrant from the state to which 
they respectively belong ; or, failing that, must find 
security among their friends, for the payment of 
about twenty pounds English for their first year's 
board and instruction, and ten for the second. 
" After the first year," say the trustees, " an 
account current will be opened with each pupil ; 
he will be charged with the actual cost of his 
board, which will not exceed two dollars per 
week ; " a trifle more than eight shillings English ; 

F2 



68 BOSTON. 

" and he will be credited with the amount paid for 
him by the state, or by his friends ; also with his 
earnings over and above the cost of the stock 
which he uses ; so that all his earnings over one 
dollar per week will be his own. By the third 
year it will be known whether his earnings will 
more than pay the actual cost of his board ; if 
they should, he will have it at his option to remain 
and receive his earnings, or not. Those who prove 
unable to earn their own livelihood will not be 
retained ; as it is not desirable to convert the 
establishment into an almshouse, or to retain any 
but working bees in the hive. Those who by 
physical or mental imbecility are disqualified for 
work, are thereby disqualified from being members 
of an industrious community; and they can be 
better provided for in establishments fitted for the 
infirm. 1 " 

I went to see this place one very fine winter 
morning: an Italian sky above, and the air so 
clear and bright on every side, that even my eyes, 
which are none of the best, could follow the minute 



BOSTON. 69 

lines and scraps of tracery in distant buildings. 
Like most other public institutions in America, of 
the same class, it stands a mile or two without the 
town, in a cheerful healthy spot ; and is an airy, 
spacious, handsome edifice. It is built upon a 
height, commanding the harbour. When I paused 
for a moment at the door, and marked how fresh 
and free the whole scene was what sparkling 
bubbles glanced upon the waves, and welled up 
every moment to the surface, as though the world 
below, like that above, were radiant with the 
bright day, and gushing over in its fulness of 
light : when I gazed from sail to sail away upon a 
ship at sea, a tiny speck of shining white, the only 
cloud upon the still, deep, distant blue and, 
turning, saw a blind boy with his sightless face 
addressed that way, as though he too had some 
sense within him of the glorious distance : I felt a 
kind of sorrow that the place should be so very 
light, and a strange wish that for his sake it were 
darker. It was but momentary, of course, and a 
mere fancy, but I felt it keenly for all that. 



70 BOSTON. 

The children were at their daily tasks in different 
rooms, except a few who were already dismissed, 
and were at play. Here, as in many institutions, 
no uniform, is worn ; and I was very glad of it, for 
two reasons. Firstly, because I am sure that 
nothing but senseless custom and want of thought 
would reconcile us to the liveries and badges we 
are so fond of at home. Secondly, because the 
absence of these things presents each child to the 
visitor in his or her own proper character, with its 
individuality unimpaired ; not lost in a dull, ugly, 
monotonous repetition of the same unmeaning 
garb : which is really an important consideration. 
The wisdom of encouraging a little harmless pride 
in personal appearance even among the blind, 
or the whimsical absurdity of considering charity 
and leather breeches inseparable companions, as 
we do, requires no comment. 

Good order, cleanliness, and comfort, pervaded 
every corner of the building. The various classes, 
who were gathered round their teachers, answered 
the questions put to them with readiness and 



BOSTON. 71 

intelligence, and in a spirit of cheerful contest for 
precedence which pleased me very much. Those 
who were at play, were gleesome and noisy as other 
children. More spiritual and affectionate friend 
ships appeared to exist among them, than would 
be found among other young persons suffering 
under no deprivation ; but this I expected and 
was prepared to find. It is a part of the great 
scheme of Heaven's merciful consideration for the 
afflicted. 

In a portion of the building, set apart for that 
purpose, are workshops for blind persons whose 
education is finished, and who have acquired a 
trade, but who cannot pursue it in an ordinary 
manufactory because of their deprivation. Several 
people were at work here; making brushes, mat 
tresses, and so forth; and the cheerfulness, in 
dustry, and good order discernible in every other 
part of the building, extended to this department 
also. 

On the ringing of a bell, the pupils all repaired, 
without any guide or leader, to a spacious music- 



72 BOSTON. 

hall, where they took their seats in an orchestra 
erected for that purpose, and listened with manifest 
delight to a voluntary on the organ, played by one 
of themselves. At its conclusion, the performer, 
a boy of nineteen or twenty, gave place to a girl ; 
and to her accompaniment they all sang a hymn, 
and afterwards a sort of chorus. It was very sad 
to look upon and hear them, happy though their 
condition unquestionably was ; and I saw that one 
blind girl, who (being for the time deprived of 
the use of her limbs, by illness) sat close beside 
me with her face towards them, wept silently the 
while she listened. 

It is strange to watch the faces of the blind, and 
see how free they are from all concealment of 
what is passing in their thoughts ; observing 
which, a man with eyes may blush to contemplate 
the mask he wears. Allowing for one shade of 
anxious expression which is never absent from their 
countenances, and the like of which we may readily 
detect in our own faces if we try to feel our way in 
the dark, every idea, as it rises within them, is 



BOSTON. 73 

expressed with the lightning's speed, and nature's 
truth. If the company at a rout, or drawing- 
room at court, could only for one time be as un 
conscious of the eyes upon them as blind men 
and women are, what secrets would come out, 
and what a worker of hypocrisy this sight, the 
loss of which we so much pity, would appear 
to be! 

The thought occurred to me as I sat down in 
another room, before a girl, blind, deaf, and dumb ; 
destitute of smell ; and nearly so, of taste : before a 
fair young creature with every human faculty, and 
hope, and power of goodness and affection, inclosed 
within her delicate frame, and but one outward 
sense the sense of touch. There she was, before me; 
built up, as it were, in a marble cell, impervious to 
any ray of light, or particle of sound ; with her 
poor white hand peeping through a chink in the 
wall, beckoning to some good man for help, that 
an Immortal soul might be awakened. 

Long before I looked upon her, the help had 
come. Her face was radiant with intelligence and 



74< BOSTON. 

pleasure. Her hair, braided by her own hands, 
was bound about a head, whose intellectual 
capacity and development were beautifully ex 
pressed in its graceful outline, and its broad open 
brow ; her dress, arranged by herself, was a pattern 
of neatness and simplicity; the work she had 
knitted, lay beside her ; her writing-book was on 
the desk she leaned upon. From the mournful 
ruin of such bereavement, there had slowly risen 
up this gentle, tender, guileless, grateful hearted 
being. 

Like other inmates of that house, she had a 
green ribbon bound round her eyelids. A doll she 
had dressed lay near upon the ground. I took it 
up, and saw that she had made a green fillet such 
as she wore herself, and fastened it about its 
mimic eyes. 

She was seated in a little enclosure, made by 
school-desks and forms, writing her daily journal. 
But soon finishing this pursuit, she engaged in an 
animated communication with a teacher who sat 
beside her. This was a favourite mistress with 



BOSTON. 75 

the poor pupil. If she could see the face of 
her fair instructress, she would not love her less, 
I am sure. 

I have extracted a few disjointed fragments of 
her history, from an account, written by that one 
man who has made her what she is. It is a very 
beautiful and touching narrative; and I wish I 
could present it entire. 

Her name is Laura Bridgman. " She was born 
in Hanover, New Hampshire, on the twenty- first of 
December, 1829. She is described as having been 
a very sprightly and pretty infant, with bright 
blue eyes. She was, however, so puny and feeble 
until she was a year and a half old, that her 
parents hardly hoped to rear her. She was sub 
ject to severe fits, which seemed to rack her frame 
almost beyond her power of endurance ; and life 
was held by the feeblest tenure : but when a year 
and a half old, she seemed to rally; the dangerous 
symptoms subsided ; and at twenty months old, 
she was perfectly well. 

" Then her mental powers, hitherto stinted in 



76 BOSTON. 

their growth, rapidly developed themselves ; and 
during the four months of health which she enjoyed, 
she appears (making due allowance for a fond 
mother's account) to have displayed a considerable 
degree of intelligence. 

" But suddenly she sickened again ; her disease 
raged with great violence during five weeks, when 
her eyes and ears were inflamed, suppurated, and 
their contents were discharged. But though sight 
and hearing were gone for ever, the poor child's 
sufferings were not ended. The fever raged during 
seven weeks; for five months she was kept in 
bed in a darkened room ; it was a year before she 
could walk unsupported, and two years before she 
could sit up all day. It was now observed that 
her sense of smell was almost entirely destroyed ; 
and, consequently, that her taste was much 
blunted. 

" It was not until four years of age that the 
poor child's bodily health seemed restored, and she 
was able to enter upon her apprenticeship of life 
and the world. 



BOSTON. 77 

" But what a situation was hers ! The darkness 
and the silence of the tomb were around her : no 
mother's smile called forth her answering smile, 
no father's voice taught her to imitate his sounds : 
they, brothers and sisters, were but forms of 
matter which resisted her touch, but which dif 
fered not from the furniture of the house, save 
in warmth, and in the power of locomotion ; and 
not even in these respects from the dog and 
the cat. 

" But the immortal spirit which had been im 
planted within her could not die, nor be maimed 
nor mutilated ; and though most of its avenues of 
communication with the world were cut off, it 
began to manifest itself through the others. As 
soon as she could walk, she began to explore the 
room, and then the house ; she became familiar 
with the form, density, weight, and heat, of every 
article she could lay her hands upon. She followed 
her mother, and felt her hands and arms, as she 
was occupied about the house ; and her disposi 
tion to imitate, led her to repeat everything 



78 BOSTON. 

herself. She even learned to sew a little, and to 
knit." 

The reader will scarcely need to be told, how 
ever, that the opportunities of communicating with 
her, were very, very limited ; and that the moral 
effects of her wretched state soon began to appear. 
Those who cannot be enlightened by reason, can 
only be controlled by force; and this, coupled 
with her great privations, must soon have re 
duced her to a worse condition than that of the 
beasts that perish, but for timely and unhoped 
for aid. 

" At this time, I was so fortunate as to hear of 
the child, and immediately hastened to Hanover 
to see her. I found her with a well-formed figure; 
a strongly-marked, nervous-sanguine temperament; 
a large and beautifully-shaped head ; and the whole 
system in healthy action. The parents were easily 
induced to consent to her coming to Boston, and 
on the 4th of October, 1837, they brought her to 
the Institution. 

" For a while, she was much bewildered ; and 



BOSTON. 79 

after waiting about two weeks, until she became 
acquainted with her new locality, and somewhat 
familiar with the inmates, the attempt was 
made to give her knowledge of arbitrary signs, 
by which she could interchange thoughts with 
others. 

"There was one of two ways to be adopted: 
either to go on to build up a language of signs on 
the basis of the natural language which she had 
already commenced herself, or to teach her the 
purely arbitrary language in common use : that is, 
to give her a sign for every individual thing, or to 
give her a knowledge of letters by combination of 
which she might express her idea of the existence, 
and the mode and condition of existence, of any 
thing. The former would have been easy, but very 
ineffectual ; the latter seemed very difficult, but, if 
accomplished, very effectual. I determined there 
fore to try the latter. 

4; The first experiments were made by taking 
articles in common use, such as knives, forks, 
spoons, keys, &c. and pasting upon them labels 



80 BOSTON. 

with their names printed in raised letters. These 
she felt very carefully, and soon, of course, dis 
tinguished that the crooked lines spoon, differed 
as much from the crooked lines k ey, as the spoon 
differed from the key in form. 

"Then small detached labels, with the same 
words printed upon them, were put into her hands ; 
and she soon observed that they were similar to the 
ones pasted on the articles. She showed her per 
ception of this similarity by laying the label key 
upon the key, and the label spoon upon the spoon. 
She was encouraged here by the natural sign of 
approbation, patting on the head. 

" The same process was then repeated with all 
the articles which she could handle ; and she very 
easily learned to place the proper labels upon them. 
It was evident, however, that the only intellectual 
exercise was that of imitation and memory. She 
recollected that the label book was placed upon 
a book, and she repeated the process first from 
imitation, next from memory, with only the motive 
of love of approbation, but apparently without the 



BOSTON. 81 

intellectual perception of any relation between the 
things. 

4 'After a while, instead of labels, the individual 
letters were given to her on detached bits of paper: 
they were arranged side by side so as to spell book, 
key, &c. ; then they were mixed up in a heap 
and a sign was made for her to arrange them her 
self, so as to express the words book, key, &c. ; 
and she did so. 

"Hitherto, the process had been mechanical, 
and the success about as great as teaching a very 
knowing dog a variety of tricks. The poor child 
had sat in mute amazement, and patiently imitated 
every thing her teacher did ; but now the truth 
began to flash upon her: her intellect began to 
work : she perceived that here was a way by which 
she could herself make up a sign of any thing that 
was in her own mind, and show it to another mind ; 
and at once her countenance lighted up with a 
human expression: it was no longer a dog, or 
parrot : it was an immortal spirit, eagerly seizing 
upon a new link of union with other spirits ! I 

VOL. I. G 



82 BOSTON. 

could almost fix upon the moment when this truth 
dawned upon her mind, and spread its light to her 
countenance; I saw that the great obstacle was 
overcome ; and that henceforward nothing but 
patient and persevering, but plain and straightfor 
ward, efforts were to be used. 

"The result thus far, is quickly related, and 
easily conceived ; but not so was the process ; for 
many weeks of apparently unprofitable labour were 
passed before it was effected. 

" When it was said above, that a sign was made, 
it was intended to say, that the action was per 
formed by her teacher, she feeling his hands, and 
then imitating the motion. 

" The next step was to procure a set of metal 
types, with the different letters of the alphabet 
cast upon their ends ; also a board, in which were 
square holes, into which holes she could set the 
types ; so that the letters on their ends could alone 
be felt above the surface. 

" Then, on any article being handed to her, for 
instance, a pencil, or a watch, she would select the 



BOSTON. 83 

component letters, and arrange them on her board, 
and read them with apparent pleasure. 

" She was exercised for several weeks in this 
way, until her vocabulary became extensive ; and 
then the important step was taken of teaching her 
how to represent the different letters by the posi 
tion of her fingers, instead of the cumbrous appa 
ratus of the board and types. She accomplished 
this speedily and easily, for her intellect had begun 
to work in aid of her teacher, and her progress 
was rapid. 

" This was the period, about three months after 
she had commenced, that the first report of her 
case was made, in which it is stated that c she 
has just learned the manual alphabet, as used by 
the deaf mutes, and it is a subject of delight and 
wonder to see how rapidly, correctly, and eagerly, 
she goes on with her labours. Her teacher gives 
her a new object, for instance, a pencil, first lets 
her examine it, and get an idea of its use, then 
teaches her how to spell it by making the signs 
for the letters with her own fingers : the child 

G 2 



84 BOSTON. 

grasps her hand, and feels her fingers, as the 
different letters are formed ; she turns her head 
a little on one side, like a person listening closely ; 
her lips are apart ; she seems scarcely to breathe ; 
and her countenance, at first anxious, gradually 
changes to a smile, as she comprehends the lesson. 
She then holds up her tiny fingers, and spells the 
word in the manual alphabet ; next, she takes 
her types and arranges her letters ; and last, to 
make sure that she is right, she takes the whole of 
the types composing the word, and places them 
upon or in contact with the pencil, or whatever 
the object may be.' 

" The whole of the succeeding year was passed 
in gratifying her eager inquiries for the names of 
every object which she could possibly handle ; in 
exercising her in the use of the manual alphabet ; 
in extending in every possible way her knowledge 
of the physical relations of things ; and in proper 
<jare of her health. 

" At the end of the year a report of her case 
was made, from which the following is an extract. 



BOSTON. 85 

" ' It has been ascertained beyond the possibi 
lity of doubt, that she cannot see a ray of light, 
cannot hear the least sound, and never exercises 
her sense of smell, if she have any. Thus her 
mind dwells in darkness and stillness, as profound 
as that of a closed tomb at midnight. Of beauti 
ful sights, and sweet sounds, and pleasant odours, 
she has no conception ; nevertheless, she seems 
as happy and playful as a bird or a lamb ; and 
the employment of her intellectual faculties, or the 
acquirement of a new idea, gives her a vivid plea 
sure, which is plainly marked in her expressive 
features. She never seems to repine, but has all 
the buoyancy and gaiety of childhood. She is fond 
of fun and frolic, and when playing with the rest 
of the children, her shrill laugh sounds loudest 
of the group. 

" 4 When left alone, she seems very happy if she 
have her knitting or sewing, and will busy herself 
for hours : if she have no occupation, she evidently 
amuses herself by imaginary dialogues, or by recall 
ing past impressions ; she counts with her fingers, 



86 BOSTON. 

or spells out names of things which she has recently 
learned, in the manual alphabet of the deaf mutes. 
In this lonely self-communion she seems to reason, 
reflect, and argue : if she spell a word wrong with 
the fingers of her right hand, she instantly strikes 
it with her left, as her teacher does, in sign of 
disapprobation ; if right, then she pats herself 
upon the head, and looks pleased. She sometimes 
purposely spells a word wrong with the left hand, 
looks roguish for a moment and laughs, and then 
with the right hand strikes the left, as if to 
correct it. 

" ' During the year she has attained great dex 
terity in the use of the manual alphabet of the deaf 
mutes ; and she spells out the words and sentences 
which she knows, so fast and so deftly, that only 
those accustomed to this language can follow with 
the eye the rapid motions of her fingers. 

" c But wonderful as is the rapidity with which she 
writes her thoughts upon the air, still more so is the 
ease and accuracy with which she reads the words 
thus written by another ; grasping their hands in 



BOSTON. 87 

hers, and following every movement of their fingers, 
as letter after letter conveys their meaning to her 
mind. It is in this way that she converses with 
her blind playmates, and nothing can more forcibly 
show the power of mind in forcing matter to its 
purpose, than a meeting between them. For if 
great talent and skill are necessary for two panto 
mimes to paint their thoughts and feelings by the 
movements of the body, and the expression of the 
countenance, how much greater the difficulty when 
darkness shrouds them both, and the one can hear 
no sound ! 

" ' When Laura is walking through a passage way, 
with her hands spread before her, she knows in 
stantly every one she meets, and passes them with 
a sign of recognition : but if it be a girl of her own 
age, and especially if it be one of her favourites, 
there is instantly a bright smile of recognition, 
and a twining of arms, a grasping of hands, and 
a swift telegraphing upon the tiny fingers ; whose 
rapid evolutions convey the thoughts and feelings 
from the outposts of one mind to those of the other. 



BOSTOX. 



There are questions and answers, exchanges of 
joy or sorrow, there are kissings and partings, 
just as between little children with all their senses.' 
" During this year, and six months after 
she had left home, her mother came to visit 
her, and the scene of their meeting was an inte 
resting one. 

"The mother stood some time, gazing with 
overflowing eyes upon her unfortunate child, who, 
all unconscious of her presence, was playing about 
the room. Presently Laura ran against her, and 
at once began feeling her hands, examining her 
dress, and trying to find out if she knew her ; but 
not succeeding in this, she turned away as from 
a stranger, and the poor woman could not con 
ceal the pang she felt, at finding that her beloved 
child did not know her. 

" She then gave Laura a string of beads which 
she used to wear at home, which were recognized 
by the child at once, who, with much joy, put them 
around her neck, and sought me eagerly to say 
she understood the string was from her home. 



BOSTON. 89 

" The mother now tried to caress her, but poor 
Laura repelled her, preferring to be with her 
acquaintances. 

" Another article from home was now given 
her, and she began to look much interested ; she 
examined the stranger much closer, and gave me 
to understand that she knew she came from 
Hanover; she even endured her caresses, but 
would leave her with indifference at the slightest 
signal. The distress of the mother was now pain 
ful to behold ; for, although she had feared that 
she should not be recognized, the painful reality of 
being treated with cold indifference by a darling 
child, was too much for woman's nature to bear. 

" After a while, on the mother taking hold of her 
again, a vague idea seemed to flit across Laura's 
mind, that this could not be a stranger; she 
therefore felt her hands very eagerly, while her 
countenance assumed an expression of intense 
interest; she became very pale, and then sud 
denly red; hope seemed struggling with doubt 
and anxiety, and never were contending emotions 



90 BOSTON. 

more strongly painted upon the human face : at 
this moment of painful uncertainty, the mother 
drew her close to her side, and kissed her fondly, 
when at once the truth flashed upon the child, 
and all mistrust and anxiety disappeared from her 
face, as with an expression of exceeding joy she 
eagerly nestled to the bosom of her parent, and 
yielded herself to her fond embraces. 

" After this, the beads were all unheeded ; the 
playthings which were offered to her were utterly 
disregarded; her playmates, for whom but a 
moment before she gladly left the stranger, now 
vainly strove to pull her from her mother ; and 
though she yielded her usual instantaneous obe 
dience to my signal to follow me, it was evidently 
with painful reluctance. She clung close to me, as 
if bewildered and fearful ; and when, after a mo 
ment, I took her to her mother, she sprang to her 
arms, and clung to her with eager joy. 

u The subsequent parting between them, showed 
alike the affection, the intelligence, and the resolu 
tion of the child. 



BOSTON. 9 1 

" Laura accompanied her mother to the door, 
clinging close to her all the way, until they arrived 
at the threshold, where she paused, and felt around, 
to ascertain who was near her. Perceiving the 
matron, of whom she is very fond, she grasped 
her with one hand, holding on convulsively to her 
mother with the other ; and thus she stood for a 
moment: then she dropped her mothers hand; 
put her handkerchief to her eyes ; and turning 
round, clung sobbing to the matron ; while her 
mother departed, with emotions as deep as those 
of her child. 

****** 

" It has been remarked in former reports, that 
she can distinguish different degrees of intellect in 
others, and that she soon regarded almost with 
contempt, a newcomer, when, after a few days, 
she discovered her weakness of mind. This una- 
miable part of her character has been more strongly 
developed during the past year. 

" She chooses for her friends and companions, 
those children who are intelligent, and can talk 



92 BOSTON. 

best with her; and she evidently dislikes to be 
with those who are deficient in intellect, unless, 
indeed, she can make them serve her purposes, 
which she is evidently inclined to do. She takes 
advantage of them, and makes them wait upon 
her, in a manner that she knows she could not 
exact of others ; and in various ways she shows her 
Saxon blood. 

" She is fond of having other children noticed 
and caressed by the teachers, and those whom she 
respects ; but this must not be carried too far, or 
she becomes jealous. She wants to have her share, 
which, if not the lion's, is the greater part ; and if 
she does not get it, she says, ' My mother will 
love me? 

" Her tendency to imitation is so strong, that it 
leads her to actions which must be entirely incom 
prehensible to her, and which can give her no other 
pleasure than the gratification of an internal faculty. 
She has been known to sit for half an hour, holding 
a book before her sightless eyes, and moving her 
lips, as she has observed seeing people do when 
reading. 



BOSTON. 93 

" She one day pretended that her doll was sick ; 
and went through all the motions of tending it, 
and giving it medicine ; she then put it carefully 
to bed, and placed a bottle of hot water to its feet, 
laughing all the time most heartily. When I came 
home, she insisted upon my going to see it, and feel 
its pulse ; and when I told her to put a blister on 
its back, she seemed to enjoy it amazingly, and 
almost screamed with delight. 

" Her social feelings, and her affections, are very 
strong ; and when she is sitting at work, or at her 
studies, by the side of one of her little friends, she 
will break off from her task every few moments, to 
hug and kiss them with an earnestness and warmth 
that is touching to behold. 

*' When left alone, she occupies and apparently 
amuses herself, and seems quite contented ; and so 
strong seems to be the natural tendency of thought 
to put on the garb of language, that she often soli 
loquizes in thejinger language, slow and tedious as 
it is. But it is only when alone, that she is quiet : 
for if she become sensible of the presence of any 



94 BOSTON. 

one near her, she is restless until she can sit close 
beside them, hold their hand, and converse with 
them by signs. 

<c In her intellectual character it is pleasing to 
observe an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a 
quick perception of the relations of things. In her 
moral character, it is beautiful to behold her con 
tinual gladness, her keen enjoyment of existence, 
her expansive love, her unhesitating confidence, 
her sympathy with suffering, her conscientious 
ness, truthfulness, and hopefulness.'" 

Such are a few fragments from the simple but 
most interesting and instructive history of Laura 
Bridgman. The name of her great benefactor and 
friend, who writes it, is Doctor Howe. There are 
not many persons, I hope and believe, who, after 
reading these passages, can ever hear that name 
with indifference. 

A further account has been published by Dr. 
Howe, since the report from which I have just 
quoted. It describes her rapid mental growth 
and improvement during twelve months more, and 



BOSTOX. 95 

brings her little history down to the end of last 
year. It is very remarkable, that as we dream in 
words, and carry on imaginary conversations, in 
which we speak both for ourselves and for the 
shadows who appear to us in those visions of the 
night, so she, having no words, uses her finger 
alphabet in her sleep. And it has been ascertained 
that when her slumber is broken, and is much dis 
turbed by dreams, she expresses her thoughts in 
an irregular and confused manner on her fingers : 
just as we should murmur and mutter them indis 
tinctly, in the like circumstances. 

I turned over the leaves of her Diary, and found 
it written in a fair legible square hand, and ex 
pressed in terms which were quite intelligible with 
out any explanation. On my saying that I should 
like to see her write again, the teacher who sat 
beside her, bade her, in their language, sign her 
name upon a slip of paper, twice or thrice. In 
doing so, I observed that she kept her left hand 
always touching, and following up, her right, in 
which, of course, she held the pen. No line was 



96 BOSTON. 

indicated by any contrivance, but she wrote straight 
and freely. 

She had, until now, been quite unconscious of 
the presence of visitors; but, having her hand 
placed in that of the gentleman who accompanied 
me, she immediately expressed his name upon her 
teachers palm. Indeed her sense of touch is now 
so exquisite, that having been acquainted with a 
person once, she can recognise him or her after 
almost any interval. This gentleman had been in 
her company, I believe, but very seldom, and cer 
tainly had not seen her for many months. My 
hand she rejected at once, as she does that of any 
man who is a stranger to her. But she retained 
my wife's with evident pleasure, kissed her, and 
examined her dress with a girl's curiosity and 
interest. 

She was merry and cheerful, and showed much 
innocent playfulness in her intercourse with her 
teacher. Her delight on recognising a favourite 
playfellow and companion herself a blind girl 
who silently, and with an equal enjoyment of the 



BOSTON. 97 

coming surprise, took a seat beside her, was beau 
tiful to witness. It elicited from her at first, as 
other slight circumstances did twice or thrice during 
my visit, an uncouth noise which was rather painful 
to hear. But on her teacher touching her lips, 
she immediately desisted, and embraced her laugh 
ingly and affectionately. 

I had previously been into another chamber, 
where a number of blind boys were swinging, and 
climbing, and engaged in various sports. They all 
clamoured, as we entered, to the assistant-master, 
who accompanied us, " Look at me, Mr. Hart ! 
Please, Mr. Hart, look at me ! " evincing, I thought, 
even in this, an anxiety peculiar to their condition, 
that their little feats of agility should be seen. 
Among them was a small laughing fellow, who 
stood aloof, entertaining himself with a gymnastic 
exercise for bringing the arms and chest into play ; 
which he enjoyed mightily; especially when, in 
thrusting out his right arm, he brought it tatu 
contact with another boy. Like Laura Bridgman, 
this young child was deaf, and dumb, and blind. 

VOL. I. H 



98 BOSTON. 

Dr. Howe^s account of this pupil's first instruc 
tion is so very striking, and so intimately connected 
with Laura herself, that I cannot refrain from a 
short extract. I may premise that the poor boy's* 
name is Oliver Caswell ; that he is thirteen years 
of age ; and that he was in full possession of all his 
faculties, until three years and four months old. 
He was then attacked by scarlet fever: in four 
weeks became deaf ; in a few weeks more, blind ; 
in six months, dumb. He showed his anxious sense 
of this last deprivation, by often feeling the lips 
of other persons when they were talking, and 
then putting his hand upon his own, as if to 
assure himself that he had them in the right 
position. 

" His thirst for knowledge," says Dr. Howe, 
" proclaimed itself as soon as he entered the house, 
by his eager examination of every thing he could 
feel or smell in his new location. For instance, 
treading upon the register of a furnace, he instantly 
stooped down, and began to feel it, and soon 
discovered the way in which the upper plate 



BOSTON. 99 

moved upon the lower one ; but this was not 
enough for him, so lying down upon his face, he 
applied his tongue first to one then to the other, 
and seemed to discover that they were of different 
kinds of metal. 

" His signs were expressive : and the strictly 
natural language, laughing, crying, sighing, kissing, 
embracing, &c., was perfect. 

" Some of the analogical signs which (guided 
by his faculty of imitation) he had contrived, were 
comprehensible ; such as the waving motion of his 
hand for the motion of a boat, the circular one for 
a wheel, &c. 

" The first object was to break up the use of 
these signs, and to substitute for them the use of 
purely arbitrary ones. 

" Profiting by the experience I had gained in 
the other cases, I omitted several steps of the 
process before employed, and commenced at once 
with the finger language. Taking therefore, several 
articles having short names, such as key, cup, 
mug, &c., and with Laura for an auxiliary, I sat 

H 2 



100 BOSTON. 

down, and taking his hand, placed it upon one of 
them, and then with my own, made the letters 
k e y. He felt my hands eagerly with both of 
his, and on my repeating the process, he evidently 
tried to imitate the motions of my fingers. In a 
few minutes he contrived to feel the motions of 
my fingers with one hand, and holding out the 
other he tried to imitate them, laughing most 
heartily when he succeeded. Laura was by, in 
terested even to agitation ; and the two presented 
a singular sight : her face was flushed and anxious, 
and her fingers twined in among ours so closely as 
to follow every motion, but so lightly as not to 
embarrass them ; while Oliver stood attentive, 
his head a little aside, his face turned up, his left 
hand grasping mine, and his right held out : at 
every motion of my fingers his countenance be 
tokened keen attention ; there was an expression 
of anxiety as he tried to imitate the motions ; 
then a smile came stealing out as he thought he 
could do so, and spread into a joyous laugh the 
moment he succeeded, and felt me pat his head, 



BOSTON. 101 

and Laura clap him heartily upon the back, and 
jump up and down in her joy. 

" He learned more than a half dozen letters in 
half an hour, and seemed delighted with his suc 
cess, at least in gaining approbation. His attention 
then began to flag, and I commenced playing with 
him. It was evident that in all this he had merely 
been imitating the motions of my fingers, and 
placing his hand upon the key, cup, &c., as part 
of the process, without any perception of the 
relation between the sign and the object. 

" When he was tired with play I took him back 
to the table, and he was quite ready to begin 
again his process of imitation. He soon learned 
to make the letters for key, pen, pin ; and by having 
the object repeatedly placed in his hand, he at 
last perceived the relation I wished to establish 
between them. This was evident, because, when I 
made the letters pin, or pen, or cup, he would 
select the article. 

" The perception of this relation was not accom 
panied by that radiant flash of intelligence, and 



102 BOSTON. 

that glow of joy, which marked the delightful 
moment when Laura first perceived it. I then 
placed all the articles on the table, and going 
away a little distance with the children, placed 
Oliver's fingers in the positions to spell key, on 
which Laura went and brought the article : the 
little fellow seemed to be much amused by this, 
and looked very attentive and smiling. I then 
caused him to make the letters b r e a d, and in 
an instant Laura went and brought him a piece: 
he smelled at it ; put it to his lips ; cocked up his 
head with a most knowing look ; seemed to reflect 
a moment ; and 'then laughed outright, as much 
as to say, ' Aha ! I understand now how something 
may be made out of this. 1 

<; It was now clear that he had the capacity and 
inclination to learn, that he was a proper subject 
for instruction, and needed only persevering at 
tention I therefore put him in the hands of an 
intelligent teacher, nothing doubting of his rapid 
progress." 

Well may this gentleman call that a delightful 



BOSTON. 103 

moment, in which some distant promise of her 
present state first gleamed upon the darkened 
mind of Laura Bridgman. Throughout his life, 
the recollection of that moment will be to him a 
source of pure, unfading happiness; nor will it 
shine least brightly on the evening of his days of 
Noble Usefulness. 

The affection that exists between these two the 
master and the pupil is as far removed from all 
ordinary care and regard, as the circumstances in 
which it has had its growth, are apart from the 
common occurrences of life. He is occupied now, 
in devising means of imparting to her, higher 
knowledge ; and of conveying to her some adequate 
idea of the Great Creator of that universe in 
which, dark and silent and scentless though it be 
to her, she has such deep delight and glad enjoy 
ment. 

Ye who have eyes and see not, and have ears 
and hear not ; ye who are as the hypocrites of 
sad countenances, and disfigure your faces that 
ye may seem unto men to fast ; learn healthy 



104 BOSTON". 

cheerfulness, and mild contentment, from the deaf, 
and dumb, and blind ! Self-elected saints with 
gloomy brows, this sightless, earless, voiceless child 
may teach you lessons you will do well to follow. 
Let that poor hand of hers lie gently on your 
hearts ; for there may be something in its healing 
touch akin to that of the Great Master whose 
precepts you misconstrue, whose lessons you 
pervert, of whose charity and sympathy with 
all the world, not one among you in his daily 
practice knows as much as many of the worst 
among those fallen sinners, to whom you are 
liberal in nothing but the preachment of per 
dition ! 

As I rose to quit the room, a pretty little child 
of one of the attendants came running in to greet 
its father. For the moment, a child with eyes, 
among the sightless crowd, impressed me almost 
as painfully as the blind boy in the porch had done, 
two hours ago. Ah ! how much brighter and 
more deeply blue, glowing and rich though it had 
been before, was the scene without, contrasting 



BOSTON. 105 

with the darkness of so many youthful lives 
within ! 



At SOUTH BOSTON, as it is called, in a situation, 
excellently adapted for the purpose, several cha 
ritable institutions are clustered together. One 
of these, is the State Hospital for the insane; 
admirably conducted on those enlightened prin 
ciples of conciliation and kindness, which twenty 
years ago would have been worse than heretical, 
and which have been acted upon with so much 
success in our own pauper asylum at Han well. 
" Evince a desire to show some confidence, and 
repose some trust, even in mad people," said the 
resident physician, as we walked along the galleries, 
his patients flocking round us unrestrained. Of 
those who deny or doubt the wisdom of this maxim 
after witnessing its, effects, if there be such people 
still alive, I can only say that I hope I may never 
be summoned as a Juryman on a Commission of 
Lunacy whereof they are the subjects ; for I 



106 BOSTON. 

should certainly find them out of their senses, on 
such evidence alone. 

Each ward in this institution is shaped like a 
long gallery or hall, with the dormitories of the 
patients opening from it on either hand. Here 
they work, read, play at skittles, and other games ; 
and when the weather does not admit of their 
taking exercise out of doors, pass the day to 
gether. In one of these rooms, seated, calmly, 
and quite as a matter of course, among a throng of 
madwomen, black and white, were the physician's 
wife and another lady, with a couple of children. 
These ladies were graceful and handsome ; and it 
was not difficult to perceive at a glance that even 
theirpresence there, had a highly beneficial influence 
on the patients who were grouped about them. 

Leaning her head against the chimney-piece, with 
a great assumption of dignity and refinement of 
manner, sat an elderly female, in as many scraps 
of finery as Madge Wildfire herself. Her head in 
particular was so strewn with scraps of gauze and 
cotton and bits of paper, and had so many queer 



BOSTON. 107 

odds and ends stuck all about it, that it looked 
like a bird's-nest. She was radiant with imaginary 
jewels ; wore a rich pair of undoubted gold spec 
tacles ; and gracefully dropped upon her lap, as 
we approached, a very old greasy newspaper, 
in which I dare say she had been reading an 
account of her own presentation at some Foreign 
Court. 

I have been thus particular in describing her, 
because she will serve to exemplify the physician's 
manner of acquiring and retaining the confidence 
of his patients. 

" This," he said aloud, taking me by the hand, 
and advancing to the fantastic figure with great 
politeness not raising her suspicions by the 
slightest look or whisper, or any kind of aside, to 
me : " This lady is the hostess of this mansion, sir. 
It belongs to her. Nobody else has anything 
whatever to do with it. It is a large establishment, 
as you see, and requires a great number of atten 
dants. She lives, you observe, in the very first 
style. She is kind enough to receive my visits, 



108 BOSTON. 

and to permit my wife and family to reside here ; 
for which, it is hardly necessary to say, we are 
much indebted to her. She is exceedingly 
courteous, you perceive," on this hint she bowed, 
condescendingly, " and will permit me to have the 
pleasure of introducing you : a gentleman from 
England, Ma'am : newly arrived from England, 
after a very tempestuous passage : Mr. Dickens, 
the lady of the house ! " 

We exchanged the most dignified salutations 
with profound gravity and respect, and so went on. 
The rest of the madwomen seemed to understand 
the joke perfectly (not only in this case, but in all the 
others, except their own), and to be highly amused 
by it. The nature of their several kinds of insanity 
was made known to me in the same way, and we 
left each of them in high good humour. Not only 
is a thorough confidence established, by these means, 
between physician and patient, in respect of the 
nature and extent of their hallucinations, but it is 
easy to understand that opportunities are afforded 
for seizing any moment of reason, to startle them 



BOSTON. 109 

by placing their own delusion before them in its 
most incongruous and ridiculous light. 

Every patient in this asylum sits down to dinner 
every day with a knife and fork ; and in the midst 
of them sits the gentleman, whose manner of deal 
ing with his charges, I have just described. At 
every meal, moral influence alone restrains the 
more violent among them from cutting the throats 
of the rest; but the effect of that influence is 
reduced to an absolute certainty, and is found, 
even as a means of restraint, to say nothing of it 
as a means of cure, a hundred times more efficacious 
than all the strait-waistcoats, fetters, and hand 
cuffs, that ignorance, prejudice, and cruelty have 
manufactured since the creation of the world. 

In the labour department, every patient is as 
freely trusted with the tools of his trade as if he 
were a sane man. In the garden, and on the farm, 
they work with spades, rakes, and hoes. For 
amusement, they walk, run, fish, paint, read, and 
ride out to take the air in carriages provided for 
the purpose. They have among themselves a sew- 



110 BOSTON. 

ing society to make clothes for the poor, which 
holds meetings, passes resolutions, never comes to 
fisty cuffs or bowie-knives as sane assemblies have 
been known to do elsewhere ; and conducts all its 
proceedings with the greatest decorum. The irri 
tability, which would otherwise be expended on 
their own flesh, clothes, and furniture, is dissipated 
in these pursuits. They are cheerful, tranquil, 
and healthy. 

Once a week, they have a ball, in which the 
Doctor and his family, with all the nurses and 
attendants, take an active part. Dances and 
marches are performed alternately, to the enliven 
ing strains of a piano ; and now and then some 
gentleman or lady (whose proficiency has been pre 
viously ascertained) obliges the company with a 
song: nor does it ever degenerate, at a tender 
crisis, into a screech or howl ; wherein, I must 
confess, I should have thought the danger lay. 
At an early hour they all meet together for these 
festive purposes ; at eight o'clock refreshments are 
served ; and at nine they separate. 



BOSTON. Ill 

Immense politeness and good-breeding are 
observed throughout. They all take their tone 
from the Doctor ; and he moves a very Chesterfield 
among the company. Like other assemblies, these 
entertainments afford a fruitful topic of conversa 
tion among the ladies for some days; and the gen 
tlemen are so anxious to shine on these occasions, 
that they have been sometimes found "practising 
their steps " in private, to cut a more distinguished 
figure in the dance. 

It is obvious that one great feature of this sys 
tem, is the inculcation and encouragement, even 
among such unhappy persons, of a decent self- 
respect. Something of the same spirit pervades 
all the Institutions at South Boston. 

There is the House of Industry. In that branch 
of it, which is devoted to the reception of old or other 
wise helpless paupers, these words are painted on the 
walls : u WORTHY OF NOTICE. SELF-GOVERNMENT, 
QUIETUDE, AND PEACE, ARE BLESSINGS." It is not 
assumed and taken for granted that being there 
they must be evil-disposed and wicked people, before 



] ] 2 BOSTON. 

whose vicious eyes it is necessary to flourish threats 
and harsh restraints. They are met at the very 
threshold with this mild appeal. All within-doors 
is very plain and simple, as it ought to be, but 
arranged with a view to peace and comfort. It 
costs no more than any other plan of arrangement, 
but it bespeaks an amount of consideration for 
those who are reduced to seek a shelter there, 
which puts them at once upon their gratitude 
and good behaviour. Instead of being parcelled 
out in great, long, rambling wards, where a 
certain amount of weazen life may mope, and 
pine, and shiver, all day long, the building 
is divided into separate rooms, each with its 
share of light and air. In these, the better 
kind of paupers live. They have a motive for 
exertion and becoming pride, in the desire to make 
these little chambers comfortable and decent. 
I do not remember one but it was clean and 
neat, and had its plant or two upon the window- 
sill, or row of crockery upon the shelf, or small 
display of coloured prints upon the white- washed 



BOSTON. 113 

wall, or, perhaps, its wooden clock behind the 
door. 

The orphans and young children are in an 
adjoining building ; separate from this, but a part 
of the same Institution. Some are such little 
creatures, that the stairs are of lilliputian measure 
ment, fitted to their tiny strides. The same con 
sideration for their years and weakness is expressed 
in their very seats, which are perfect curiosities, 
and look like articles of furniture for a pauper 
dolPs-hoiise. I can imagine the glee of our<Poor 
Law Commissioners at the notion of these seats 
having arms and backs ; but small spines being of 
older date than their occupation of the Board 
room at Somerset House, I thought even this 
provision very merciful and kind. 

Here again, I was greatly pleased with the in 
scriptions on the wall, which were scraps of plain 
morality, easily remembered and understood: such 
as " Love one another" " God remembers the 
smallest creature in his creation : " and straight 
forward advice of that nature. The books and 

VOL. I. I 



114 BOSTON. 

tasks of these smallest of scholars, were adapted, 
in the same judicious manner, to their childish 
powers. When we had examined these lessons, 
four morsels of girls (of whom one was blind) 
sang a little song, about the merry month of 
May, which I thought (being extremely dismal) 
would have suited an English November better. 
That done, we went to see their sleeping-rooms 
on the floor above, in which the arrangements 
were no less excellent and gentle than those 
we had seen below. And after observing that the 
teachers were of a class and character well suited 
to the spirit of the place, I took leave of the 
infants with a lighter heart than ever I have taken 
leave of pauper infants yet. 

Connected with^the House of Industry, there is 
also a Hospital, which was in the best order, and 
had, I am glad to say, many beds unoccupied. 
It had one fault, however, which is common to all 
American interiors : the presence of the eternal, 
accursed, suffocating, red-hot demon of a stove, 
whose breath would blight the purest air under 
Heaven. 



BOSTON. 115 

There are two establishments for boys in this 
same neighbourhood. One is called the Boylston 
school, and is an asylum for neglected and indi 
gent boys who have committed no crime, but who 
in the ordinary course of things would very soon 
be purged of that distinction if they were not 
taken from the hungry streets and sent here. 
The other is a House of Reformation for Juvenile 
Offenders. They are both under the same roof, 
but the two classes of boys never come in 
contact. 

The Boylston boys, as may be readily supposed, 
have very much the advantage of the others in 
point of personal appearance. They were in their 
school- room when I came upon them, and an 
swered correctly, without book, such questions as 
where was England ; how far was it ; what was 
its population ; its capital city; its form of govern 
ment ; and so forth. They sang a song too, 
about a farmer sowing his seed : with correspond 
ing action at such parts as " 'tis thus he sows, 1 ' 
" he turns him round," " he claps his hands ;" 
i2 



116 



BOSTON. 



which gave it greater interest for them, and ac 
customed them to act together, in an orderly 
manner. They appeared exceedingly well taught, 
and not better taught than fed ; for a more 
chubby-looking, full-waistcoated set of boys, I 
never saw. 

The juvenile offenders had not such pleasant 
faces by a great deal, and in this establishment 
there were many boys of colour. I saw them first 
at their work (basket-making, and the manufac 
ture of palm-leaf hats), afterwards in their school, 
where they sang a chorus in praise of Liberty: an 
odd, and, one would think, rather aggravating, 
theme for prisoners. These boys are divided into 
four classes, each denoted by a numeral, worn on 
a badge upon the arm. On the arrival of a new 
comer, he is put into the fourth or lowest class, 
and left, by good behaviour, to work his way up 
into the first. The design and object of this Insti 
tution is to reclaim the youthful criminal by firm 
but kind and judicious treatment; to make his 
prison a place of purification and improvement, 



BOSTON. 117 

not of demoralisation and corruption ; to impress 
upon him that there is but one path, and that one 
sober industry, which can ever lead him to happi 
ness ; to teach him how it may be trodden, if his 
footsteps have never yet been led that way ; and to 
lure him back to it if they have strayed : in a 
word, to snatch him from destruction, and restore 
him to society a penitent and useful member. The 
importance of such an establishment, in every 
point of view, and with reference to every con 
sideration of humanity and social policy, requires 
no comment. 

One other establishment closes the catalogue, 
It is the House of Correction for the State, in 
which silence is strictly maintained, but where the 
prisoners have the comfort and mental relief of 
seeing each other, and of working together. This 
is the improved system of Prison Discipline which 
we have imported into England, and which has 
been in successful operation among us for some 
years past. 

America, as a new and not over-populated coun- 



118 BOSTON. 

try, has, in all her prisons, the one great advantage, 
of being enabled to find useful and profitable work 
for the inmates ; whereas, with us, the prejudice 
against prison labour is naturally very strong, and 
almost insurmountable, when honest men, who 
have not offended against the laws, are frequently 
doomed to seek employment in vain. Even in the 
United States, the principle of bringing convict 
labour and free labour into a competition which 
must obviously be to the disadvantage of the 
latter, has already found many opponents, whose 
number is not likely to diminish with access of 
years. 

For this very reason though, our best prisons 
would seem at the first glance to be better con 
ducted than those of America. The treadmill is 
accompanied with little or no noise ; five hundred 
men may pick oakum in the same room, without a 
sound ; and both kinds of labour admit of such 
keen and vigilant superintendence, as will render 
even a word of personal communication among the 
prisoners almost impossible. On the other hand, 



BOSTON. 119 

the noise of the loom, the forge, the carpenters 
hammer, or the stone-mason's saw, greatly favour 
those opportunities of intercourse hurried and 
brief no doubt, but opportunities still which these 
several kinds of work, by rendering it necessary 
for men to be employed very near to each other, 
and often side by side, without any barrier or 
partition between them, in their very nature pre 
sent. A visitor, too, requires to reason and reflect 
a little, before the sight of a number of men 
engaged ^in ordinary labour, such as he is accus 
tomed to out of doors, will impress him half as 
strongly as the contemplation of the same persons 
in the same place and garb would, if they were 
occupied in some task, marked and degraded 
everywhere as belonging only to felons in jails. 
In an American state prison or house of correc 
tion, I found it difficult at first to persuade 
myself that I was really in a jail : a place of 
ignominious punishment and endurance. And to 
this hour I very much question whether the 
humane boast that it is not like one, has its 



120 BOSTON. 

root in the true wisdom or philosophy of the 
matter. 

I hope I may not be misunderstood on this sub 
ject, for it is one in which I take a strong and 
deep interest. I incline as little to the sickly 
feeling which makes every canting lie or maudlin 
speech of a notorious criminal a subject of news 
paper report and general sympathy, as I do to 
those good old customs of the good old times 
which made England, even so recently as in the 
reign of the Third King George, in respect of her 
criminal code and her prison regulations, one of 
the most bloody-minded and barbarous countries 
on the earth. If I thought it would do any good 
to the rising generation, I would cheerfully give 
my consent to the disinterment of the bones of any 
genteel highwayman (the more genteel, the more 
cheerfully), and to their exposure, piece-meal, on 
any sign-post, gate, or gibbet, that might be 
deemed a good elevation for the purpose. My 
reason is as well convinced that these gentry 
were utterly worthless and debauched villains, 



BOSTON. 121 

as it is that the laws and jails hardened them 
in their evil courses, or that their wonderful 
escapes were effected by the prison-turnkeys who, 
in those admirable days, had always been felons 
themselves, and were, to the last, their bosom- 
friends and pot-companions. At the same time 
I know, as all men do or should, that the sub 
ject of Prison Discipline is one of the highest 
importance to any community; and that in her 
sweeping reform and bright example to other 
countries on this head, America has shown great 
wisdom, great benevolence, and exalted policy. 
In contrasting her system with that which we 
have modelled upon it, I merely seek to show that 
with all its drawbacks, ours has some advantages 
of its own *. 

* Apart from profit made by the useful labour of prisoners, 
which we can never hope to realize to any great extent, and 
which it is perhaps not expedient for us to try to gain, there 
are two prisons in London, in all respects equal, and in some 
decidedly superior, to any I saw or have ever heard or read of 
in America. One is the Tothill Fields Bridewell, conducted by 
Lieutenant A. F. Tracey, R.N. ; the other the Middlesex House 
of Correction, superintended by Mr. Chesterton. This gentleman 
also holds an appointment in the Public Service. Both are enlight- 



122 BOSTON. 

The House of Correction which has led to these 
remarks, is not walled, like other prisons, but is 
palisaded round about with tall rough stakes, 
something after the manner of an enclosure for 
keeping elephants in, as we see it represented in 
Eastern prints and pictures. The prisoners wear 
a parti-coloured dress ; and those who are sen 
tenced to hard labour, work at nail-making or 
stone-cutting. When I was there, the latter class 
of labourers were employed upon the stone for a 
new custom-house in course of erection at Boston. 
They appeared to shape it skilfully and with expe 
dition, though there were very few among them 
(if any) who had not acquired the art within the 
prison gates. 

The women, all in one large room, were em 
ployed in making light clothing, for New Orleans 
and the Southern States. They did their work in 
silence, like the men ; and like them, were over- 

ened and superior men : and it would be as difficult to find persons 
better qualified for the functions they discharge with firmness, 
zeal, intelligence, and humanity, as it would be to exceed the 
perfect order and arrangement of the institutions they govern. , 



BOSTON. 128 

looked by the person contracting for their labour, 
or by some agent of his appointment. In addition 
to this, they are every moment liable to be visited 
by the prison officers appointed for that purpose. 

The arrangements for cooking, washing of 
clothes, and so forth, are much upon the plan of 
those I have seen at home. Their mode of 
bestowing the prisoners at night (which is of gene 
ral adoption) differs from ours, and is both simple 
and effective. In the centre of a lofty area, lighted 
by windows in the four walls, are five tiers of cells, 
one above the other ; each tier having before it a 
light iron gallery, attainable by stairs of the same 
construction and material : excepting the lower 
one, which is on the ground. Behind these, back 
to back with them and facing the opposite wall, 
are five corresponding rows of cells, accessible by 
similar means : so that supposing the prisoners 
locked up in their cells, an officer stationed on the 
ground, with his back to the wall, has half their 
number under his eye at once; the remaining 
half being equally under the observation of another 



124 BOSTON. 

officer on the opposite side ; and all in one great 
apartment. Unless this watch be corrupted or 
sleeping on his post, it is impossible for a man to 
escape ; for even in the event of his forcing the 
iron door of his cell without noise (which is 
exceedingly improbable), the moment he appears 
outside, and steps into that one of the five galleries 
on which it is situated, he must be plainly and fully 
visible to the officer below. Each of these cells 
holds a small truckle-bed, in which one prisoner 
sleeps ; never more. It is small, of course ; and 
the door being not solid, but grated, and without 
blind or curtain, the prisoner within is at all times 
exposed to the observation and inspection of any 
guard who may pass along that tier at any hour or 
minute of the night. Every day, the prisoners 
receive their dinner, singly, through a trap in the 
kitchen wall ; and each man carries his to his sleep 
ing cell to eat it, where he is locked up, alone, for 
that purpose, one hour. The whole of this arrange 
ment struck me as being admirable ; and I hope 
that the next new prison we erect in England may 
be built on this plan. 



BOSTON. 125 

I was given to understand that in this prison no 
swords or fire-arms, or even cudgels, are kept ; nor 
is it probable that, so long as its present excellent 
management continues, any weapon, offensive or 
defensive, will ever be required within its bounds. 

Such are the Institutions at South Boston ! In 
all of them, the unfortunate or degenerate citizens 
of the State are carefully instructed in their duties 
both to God and man ; are surrounded by all rea 
sonable means of comfort and happiness that their 
condition will admit of ; are appealed to, as mem 
bers of the great human family, however afflicted, 
indigent, or fallen ; are ruled by the strong Heart, 
and not by the strong (though immeasurably 
weaker) Hand. I have described them at some 
length : firstly, because their worth demanded it ; 
and secondly, because I mean to take them for a 
model, and to content myself with saying of others 
we may come to, whose design and purpose are the 
same, that in this or that respect they practically 
fail, or differ. 

I wish by this account of them, imperfect in its 



126 BOSTON. 

execution, but in its just intention, honest, I could 
hope to convey to my readers one hundredth part 
of the gratification, the sights I have described, 
afforded me. 



To an Englishman, accustomed to the parapher 
nalia of Westminster Hall, an American Court of 
Law is as odd a sight as, I suppose, an English 
Court of Law would be to an American. Except 
in the Supreme Court at Washington (where the 
judges wear a plain black robe), there is no such 
thing as a wig or gown connected with the admi 
nistration of justice. The gentlemen of the bar 
being barristers and attorneys too (for there is no 
division of those functions as in England), are 
no more removed from their clients than attorneys 
in our Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors 
are, from theirs. The jury are quite^at home, and 
make themselves as comfortable as circumstances 
will permit. The witness is so little elevated above, 



BOSTON. 127 

or put aloof from, the crowd in the court, that a 
stranger entering during a pause in the proceed 
ings would find it difficult to pick him out from 
the rest. And if it chanced to be a criminal trial, 
his eyes, in nine cases out of ten, would wander to 
the dock in search of the prisoner, in vain ; for 
that gentleman would most likely be lounging 
among the most distinguished ornaments of the 
legal profession, whispering suggestions in his 
counsel's ear, or making a toothpick out of an old 
quill with his pen-knife. 

I could not but notice these differences, when I 
visited the courts at Boston. I was much sur 
prised at first, too, to observe that the counsel 
who interrogated the witness under examination 
at the time, did so sitting. But seeing that he was 
also occupied in writing down the answers, and 
remembering that he was alone and had no 
"junior," I quickly consoled myself with, the 
reflection that law was not quite so expensive an 
article here, as at home ; and that the absence of 
sundry formalities which we regard as indispen- 



128 BOSTON. 

sable, had doubtless a very favourable influence 
upon the bill of costs. 

In every Court, ample and commodious provision 
is made for the accommodation of the citizens. 
This is the case all through America. In every 
Public Institution, the right of the people to attend, 
and to have an interest in the proceedings, is most 
fully and distinctly recognised. There are no grim 
door-keepers to dole out their tardy civility by the 
sixpenny-worth ; nor is there, I sincerely believe, 
any insolence of office of any kind. Nothing 
national is exhibited for money ; and no public 
officer is a showman. We have begun of late 
years to imitate this good example. I hope we 
shall continue to do so ; and that in the fulness of 
time, even deans and chapters may be converted. 

In the civil court an action was trying, for 
damages sustained in some accident upon a rail 
way. The witnesses had been examined, and 
counsel was addressing the jury. The learned 
gentleman (like a few of his English brethren) was 
desperately long-winded, and had a remarkable 



BOSTON. 129 

capacity of saying the same thing over and over 
again. His great theme was c< Warren the engine 
driver," whom he pressed into the service of every 
sentence he uttered. I listened to him for about 
a quarter of an hour ; and, coming out of court at 
the expiration of that time, without the faintest 
ray of enlightenment as to the merits of the case, 
felt as if I were at home again. 

In the prisoners 1 cell, waiting to be examined 
by the magistrate on a charge of theft, was a boy. 
This lad, instead of being committed to a common 
jail, would be sent to the asylum at South Boston, 
and there taught a trade ; and in the course of 
time he would be bound apprentice to some respect 
able master. Thus, his detection in this offence, 
instead of being the prelude to a life of infamy and 
a miserable death, would lead, there was a reason 
able hope, to his being reclaimed from vice, and 
becoming a worthy member of society. 

I am by no means a wholesale admirer of our 
legal solemnities, many of which impress me as 
being exceedingly ludicrous. Strange as it may 



ISO BOSTON. 

seem too, there is undoubtedly a degree of pro 
tection in the wig and gown a dismissal of indi 
vidual responsibility in dressing for the part 
which encourages that insolent bearing and lan 
guage, and that gross perversion of the office of a 
pleader for The Truth, so frequent in our courts 
of law. Still) I cannot help doubting whether 
America, in her desire to shake off the absurdities 
and abuses of the old system, may not have gone too 
far into the opposite extreme ; and whether it is 
not desirable, especially in the small community of a 
city like this, where each man knows the other, to 
surround the administration of justice with some 
artificial barriers against the " Hail fellow, well 
met " deportment of everyday life. All the aid 
it can have in the very high character and ability 
of the Bench, not only here but elsewhere, it 
has, and well deserves to have ; but it may need 
something more : not to impress the thoughtful 
and the well-informed, but the ignorant and heed 
less ; a class which includes some prisoners and 
many witnesses. These institutions were established, 



BOSTON. 131 

no doubt, upon the principle that those who had so 
large a share in making the laws, would certainly 
respect them. But experience has proved this 
hope to be fallacious; for no men know better 
than the Judges of America, that on the occasion 
of any great popular excitement the law is power 
less, and cannot, for the time, assert its own 
supremacy. 

The tone of society in Boston is one of perfect 
politeness, courtesy, and good breeding. The 
ladies are unquestionably very beautiful in face : 
but there I am compelled to stop. Their educa 
tion is much as with us ; neither better nor worse. 
I had heard some very marvellous stories in this 
respect ; but not believing them, was not disap 
pointed. Blue ladies there are, in Boston ; but like 
philosophers of that colour and sex in most other 
latitudes, they rather desire to be thought superior 
than to be so. Evangelical ladies there are, like 
wise, whose attachment to the forms of religion, 
and horror of theatrical entertainments, are most 
exemplary. Ladies who have a passion for attend- 

K 2 



132 BOSTON'. 

ing lectures are to be found among all classes and 
all conditions. In the kind of provincial life which 
prevails in cities such as this, the Pulpit has great 
influence. The peculiar province of the Pulpit in 
New England (always excepting the Unitarian 
ministry) would appear to be the denouncement of 
all innocent and rational amusements. The church, 
the chapel, and the lecture-room, are the only 
means of excitement excepted ; and to the church, 
the chapel, and the lecture-room, the ladies resort 
in crowds. 

Wherever religion is resorted to, as a strong drink, 
and as an escape from the dull monotonous round 
of home, those of its ministers who pepper the 
highest will be the surest to please. They who 
strew the Eternal Path with the greatest amount 
of brimstone, and who most ruthlessly tread down 
the flowers and leaves that grow by the way- side, 
will be voted the most righteous ; and they who 
enlarge with the greatest pertinacity on the diffi 
culty of getting into heaven, will be considered by 
all true believers certain of going there : though it 



BOSTON. 133 

would be hard to say by what process of reasoning 
this conclusion is arrived at. It is so at home, and 
it is so abroad. With regard to the other means 
of excitement, the Lecture, it has at least the merit 
of being always new. One lecture treads so quickly 
on the heels of another, that none are remembered ; 
and the course of this month may be safely repeated 
next, with its charm of novelty unbroken, and its 
interest unabated. 

The fruits of the earth have their growth in cor 
ruption. Out of the rottenness of these things, 
there has sprung up in Boston a sect of philoso 
phers known as Transcendentalists. On inquiring 
what this appellation might be supposed to signify, 
I was given to understand that whatever was un 
intelligible would be certainly transcendental. Not 
deriving much comfort from this elucidation, I 
pursued the inquiry still further, and found that 
the Transcendentalists are followers of my friend 
Mr. Carlyle, or, I should rather say, of a follower 
of his, Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. This gentle 
man has written a volume of Essays, in which, 



BOSTON. 

among much that is dreamy and fanciful (if he 
will pardon me for saying so), there is much more 
that is true and manly, honest and bold. Trans 
cendentalism has its occasional vagaries (what 
school has not ?) but it has good healthful qualities 
in spite of them ; not least among the number 
a hearty disgust of Cant, and an aptitude to detect 
her in all the million varieties of her everlasting 
wardrobe. And therefore if I were a Bostonian, 
I think I would be a Transcendentalist. 

The only preacher I heard in Boston was Mr. 
Taylor, who addresses himself peculiarly to seamen, 
and who was once a mariner himself. I found 
his chapel down among the shipping, in one of the 
narrow, old, water-side streets, with a gay blue 
flag waving freely from its roof. In the gallery 
opposite to the pulpit were a little choir of male 
und female singers, a violoncello, and a violin. The 
preacher already sat in the pulpit, which was raised 
on pillars, and ornamented behind him with painted 
drapery of a lively and somewhat theatrical appear 
ance. He looked a weather-beaten hard-featured 



BOSTON. 135 

man, of about six or eight and fifty; with deep 
lines graven as it were into his face, dark hair, 
and a stern, keen eye. Yet the general character 
of his countenance was pleasant and agreeable. 

The service commenced with a hymn, to which 
succeeded an extemporary prayer. It had the 
fault of frequent repetition, incidental to all such 
prayers ; but it was plain and comprehensive in its 
doctrines, and breathed a tone of general sympathy 
and charity, which is not so commonly a charac 
teristic of this form of address to the Deity as it 
might be. That done he opened his discourse 
taking for his text a passage from the Songs of 
Solomon, laid upon the desk before the commence 
ment of the service by some unknown member of 
the congregation : " Who is this coming up from 
the wilderness, leaning on the arm of her Beloved !" 

He handled this text in all kinds of ways, and 
twisted it into all manner of shapes ; but always 
ingeniously, and with a rude eloquence, well-adapted 
to the comprehension of his hearers. Indeed if I 
be not mistaken, he studied their sympathies and 



136 BOSTON. 

understandings much more than the display of 
his own powers. His imagery was all drawn from 
the sea, and from the incidents of a seaman's life ; 
and was often remarkably good. He spoke to 
them of " that glorious man, Lord Nelson," and 
of Collingwood ; and drew nothing in, as the saying 
is, by the head and shoulders, but brought it to 
bear upon his purpose, naturally, and with a sharp 
mind to its effect. ' Sometimes, when much excited 
with his subject, he had an odd way compounded 
of John Bunyan, and Balfour of Burley of taking 
his great quarto bible under his arm and pacing 
up and down the pulpit with it : looking steadily 
down, meantime, into the midst of the congrega 
tion. Thus, when he applied his text to the first 
assemblage of his hearers, and pictured the wonder 
of the church at their presumption in forming a 
congregation among themselves, he stopped short 
with his bible under his arm in the manner I have 
described, and pursued his discourse after this 
manner : 

" Who are these who are they who are these 



BOSTOX. 137 

fellows? where do they come from? where are 
they going to ? Come from ! What's the answer?" 
leaning out of the pulpit, and pointing downward 
with his right hand: " From below !" starting 
back again, and looking at the sailors before him : 
" From below, my brethren. From under the 
hatches of sin, battened down above you by the evil 
one. That 's where you came from ! " a walk up 
and down the pulpit : " and where are you going" 
stopping abruptly : " where are you going ? Aloft ! " 
very softly, and pointing upward : " Aloft ! " 
louder: " aloft ! " louder still: " That's where 
you are going with a fair wind, all taut and 
trim, steering direct for Heaven in its glory, where 
there are no storms or foul weather, and where the 
wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at 
rest." Another walk : " That's where you're going 
to, my friends. That's it. That 's the place. That's 
the port. That's the haven. It's a blessed 
harbour still water there, in all changes of the 
winds and tides ; no driving ashore upon the rocks, 
or slipping your cables and running out to sea, 



138 BOSTON. 

there: Peace Peace Peace all peace!" An 
other walk, and patting the bible under his left 
arm : " What ! These fellows are coming from 
the wilderness, are they ? Yes. From the dreary, 
blighted wilderness of Iniquity, whose only crop is 
Death. But do they lean upon anything do they 
lean upon nothing, these poor seamen !" ^Three 
raps upon the bible : " Oh yes. Yes. They lean 
upon the arm of their Beloved " three more raps : 
" upon the arm of their Beloved " three more, 
and a walk : " Pilot, guiding-star, and compass, 
all in one, to all hands here it is" three more : 
" Here it is. They can do their seaman^s duty 
manfully, and be easy in their minds in the utmost 
peril and danger, with this " two more : " They 
can come, even these poor fellows can come, from 
the wilderness leaning on the arm of their Beloved, 
and go up up up !" raising his hand higher, 
and higher, at every repetition of the word, so 
that he stood with it at last stretched above his 
head, regarding them in a strange, rapt manner, 
and pressing the book triumphantly to his breast, 



BOSTON. 139 

until he gradually subsided into some other por 
tion of his discourse. 

I have cited this, rather as an instance of the 
preacher's eccentricities than his merits, though 
taken in connection with his look and manner, 
and the character of his audience, even this was 
striking. It is possible, however, that my favour 
able impression of him may have been greatly 
influenced and strengthened, firstly, by his impres 
sing upon his hearers that the true observance of 
religion was not inconsistent with a cheerful de 
portment and an exact discharge of the duties of 
their station, which, indeed, it scrupulously re 
quired of them ; and secondly, by his cautioning 
them not to set up any monopoly in Paradise and 
its mercies. I never heard these two points so 
wisely touched (if indeed I have ever heard them 
touched at all), by any preacher of that kind, 
before. 

Having passed the time I spent in Boston, in 
making myself acquainted with these things, in 
settling the course I should take in my future 



140 BOSTON. 

travels, and in mixing constantly with its society, 
I am not aware that I have any occasion to 
prolong this chapter. Such of its social customs 
as I have not mentioned, however, may be told 
in a very few words. 

The usual dinner-hour is two o^clock. A din 
ner party takes place at five ; and at an evening 
party, they seldom sup later than eleven ; so that 
it goes hard but one gets home, even from a rout, 
by midnight. I never could find out any differ 
ence between a party at Boston and a party in 
London, saving that at the former place all 
assemblies are held at more rational hours ; that 
the conversation may possibly be a little louder 
and more cheerful; that a guest is usually ex 
pected to ascend to the very top of the house to 
take his cloak off; that he is certain to see, at 
every dinner, an unusual amount of poultry on 
the table; and at every supper, at least two 
mighty bowls of hot stewed oysters, in any one 
of which a half-grown Duke of Clarence might 
be smothered easily. 



BOSTON. 141 

There are two theatres in Boston, of good size 
and construction, but sadly in want of patronage. 
The few ladies who resort to them, sit, as of right, 
in the front rows of the boxes. 

There is no smoking-room in any hotel, and 
there was none consequently in ours ; but the bar 
is a large room with a stone floor, and there people 
stand and smoke, and lounge about, all the evening : 
dropping in and out as the humour takes them. 
There too the stranger is initiated into the mys 
teries of Gin-sling, Cocktail, Sangaree, Mint 
Julep, Sherry-cobbler, Timber Doodle, and other 
rare drinks. The House is full of boarders, 
both married and single, many of whom sleep 
upon the premises, and contract by the week for 
their board and lodging : the charge for which 
diminishes as they go nearer the sky to roost. 
A public table is laid in a very handsome hall for 
breakfast, and for dinner, and for supper. The 
party sitting down together to these meals will 
vary in number from one to two hundred : some 
times more. The advent of each of these epochs 
in the day is proclaimed by an awful gong, which 



142 BOSTON. 

shakes the very window frames as it reverberates 
through the house, and horribly disturbs nervous 
foreigners. There is an ordinary for ladies, and 
an ordinary for gentlemen. 

In our private room the cloth could not, for any 
earthly consideration, have been laid for dinner with 
out a huge glass dish of cranberries in the middle of 
the table ; and breakfast would have been no break 
fast unless the principal dish were a deformed beef 
steak with a great flat bone in the centre, swim 
ming in hot butter, and sprinkled with the very 
blackest of all possible pepper. Our bedroom was 
spacious and airy, but (like every bedroom on 
this side of the Atlantic) very bare of furni 
ture, having no curtains to the French bedstead 
or to the window. It had one unusual luxury, 
however, in the shape of a wardrobe of painted 
wood, something smaller than an English watch- 
box : or if this comparison should be insufficient 
to convey a just idea of its dimensions, they may 
be estimated from the fact of my having lived for 
fourteen days and nights in the firm belief that it 
was a shower-bath. 



LOWELL, 



CHAPTER THE FOURTH. 

AN AMERICAN RAILROAD. LOWELL AND ITS FACTORY 
SYSTEM. 

BEFORE leaving Boston, I devoted one day to an 
excursion to Lowell. I assign a separate chapter 
to this visit ; not because I am about to describe 
it at any great length, but because I remember it 
as a" thing by itself, and am desirous that my 
readers should do the same. 

I made acquaintance with an American railroad, 
on this occasion, for the first time. As these 
works are pretty much alike all through the States, 
their general characteristics are easily described. 

There are no first and second class carriages as 
with us ; but there is a gentlemen's car and a 
ladies' car : the main distinction between which is 

VOL. I. L 



146 AN AMERICAN RAILROAD, 

that in the first, everybody smokes ; and in the 
second, nobody does. As a black man never 
travels with a white one, there is also a negro 
car; which is a great blundering clumsy chest, 
such as Gulliver put to sea in, from the kingdom 
of Brobdignag. There is a great deal of jolting, 
a great deal of noise, a great deal of wall, not 
much window, a locomotive engine, a shriek, and 
a bell. 

The cars are like shabby omnibusses, but larger : 
holding thirty, forty, fifty, people. The seats, 
instead of stretching from end to end, are placed 
crosswise. Each seat holds two persons. There 
is a long row of them on each side of the caravan, 
a narrow passage up the middle, and a door at 
both ends. In the centre of the carriage there is 
usually a stove, fed with charcoal or anthracite 
coal ; which is for the most part red-hot. It is 
insufferably close ; and you see the hot air flut 
tering between yourself and any other object 
you may happen to look at, like the ghost of 
smoke. 



AN AMERICAN RAILROAD. 147 

In the ladies' car, there are a great many 
gentlemen who have ladies with them. There 
are also a great many ladies who have nobody with 
them : for any lady may travel alone, from one end 
of the United States to the other, and be certain 
of the most courteous and considerate treatment 
everywhere. The conductor or check-taker, or 
guard, or whatever he may be, wears no uniform. 
He walks up and down the car, and in and out of 
it, as his fancy dictates ; leans against the door 
with his hands in his pockets and stares at you, if 
you chance to be a stranger ; or enters into con 
versation with the passengers about him. A great 
many newspapers are pulled out, and a few of 
them are read. Everybody talks to you, or to 
anybody else who hits his fancy. If you are an 
Englishman, he expects that that railroad is pretty 
much like an English railroad. If you say " No," 
he says " Yes 2 " (interrogatively), and asks in 
what respect they differ. You enumerate the 
heads of difference, one by one, and he says 
" Yes ? " (still interrogatively) to each. Then he 

L 2 



148 AN AMERICAN RAILROAD. 

guesses that you don't travel faster in England ; 
and on your replying that you do, says " Yes ? " 
again (still interrogatively), and, it is quite evident, 
don't believe it. After a long pause he remarks, 
partly to you, and partly to the knob on the top 
of his stick, that " Yankees are reckoned to be 
considerable of a go- ahead people too; 11 upon which 
you say " Yes," and then he says " Yes " again 
(affirmatively this time) ; and upon your looking 
out of window, tells you that behind that hill, and 
some three miles from the next station, there is a 
clever town in a smart lo-ca-tion, where he expects 
you have con-eluded to stop. Your answer in the 
negative naturally leads to more questions in 
reference to your intended route (always pro 
nounced rout) ; and wherever you are going, 
you invariably learn that you can't get there 
without immense difficulty and danger, and that 
all the great sights are somewhere else. 

If a lady take a fancy to any male passenger's 
seat, the gentleman who accompanies her gives 
him notice of the fact, and he immediately vacates 



AN AMERICAN RAILROAD. 14j) 

it with great politeness. Politics are much dis 
cussed, so are banks, so is cotton. Quiet people 
avoid the question of the Presidency, for there 
will be a new election in three years and a half, 
and party feeling runs very high : the great con 
stitutional feature of this institution being, that 
directly the acrimony of the last election is over, 
the acrimony of the next one begins ; which is an 
unspeakable comfort to all strong politicians and 
true lovers of their country : that is to say, to 
ninety-nine men and boys out of every ninety- nine 
and a quarter. 

Except when a branch road joins the main one> 
there is seldom more than one track of rails ; so 
that the road is very narrow, and the view, where 
there is a deep cutting, by no means extensive. 
When there is not, the character of the scenery 
is always the same. Mile after mile of stunted 
trees : some hewn down by the axe, some blown 
down by the wind, some half fallen and resting on 
their neighbours, many mere logs half hidden in 
the swamp, others mouldered away to spongy 



150 AN AMERICAN RAILROAD. 

chips. The very soil of the earth is made up of 
minute fragments such as these ; each pool of 
stagnant water has its crust of vegetable rotten 
ness ; on every side ; there are the boughs, and 
trunks, and stumps of trees, in every possible stage 
of decay, decomposition, and neglect. Now you 
emerge for a few brief minutes on an open country, 
glittering with some bright lake or pool, broad as 
many an English river, but so small here that 
it scarcely has a name ; now catch hasty glimpses 
of a distant town, with its clean white houses and 
their cool piazzas, its prim New England church 
and schoolhouse ; when whir-r-r-r ! almost before 
you have seen them, comes the same dark screen : 
the stunted trees, the stumps, the logs, the stag 
nant water all so like the last that you seem to 
have been transported back again by magic. 

The train calls at stations in the woods, where 
the wild impossibility of anybody having the 
smallest reason to get out, is only to be equalled 
by the apparently desperate hopelessnes of there 
being anybody to get in. It rushes across the 



AX AMERICAN RAILROAD. 151 

turnpike road, where there is no gate, no policeman, 
no signal : nothing but a rough wooden arch, on 
which is painted " WHEN THE BELL RINGS, LOOK OUT 
FOR THE LOCOMOTIVE." On it whirls headlong, 
dives through the woods again, emerges in the 
light, clatters over frail arches, rumbles upon the 
heavy ground, shoots beneath a wooden bridge 
which intercepts the light for a second like a wink, 
suddenly awakens all the slumbering echoes in the 
main street of a large town, and dashes on hap 
hazard, pell-mell, neck-or-nothing, down the middle 
of the road. There with mechanics working at 
their trades, and people leaning from their doors 
and windows, and boys flying kites and playing 
marbles, and men smoking, and women talking, 
and children crawling, and pigs burrowing, and 
unaccustomed horses plunging and rearing, close to 
the very rails there on, on, on tears the mad 
dragon of an engine with its train of cars ; 
scattering in all directions a shower of burning 
sparks from its wood fire ; screeching, hissing, 
yelling, panting ; until at last the thirsty monster 



152 LOWELL, AND ITS 

stops beneath a covered way to drink, the people 
cluster round, and you have time to breathe again. 
I was met at the station at Lowell by a gentle 
man intimately connected with the management 
of the factories there ; and gladly putting myself 
under his guidance, drove off at once to that 
quarter of the town in which the works, the object 
of my visit, were situated. Although only just of 
age for if my recollection serve me, it has been a 
manufacturing town barely one-and-twenty years 
Lowell is a large, populous, thriving place. 
Those indications of its youth which first attract 
the eye, give it a quaintness and oddity of cha 
racter which, to a visitor from the old country, is 
amusing enough. It was a very dirty winter's 
day, and nothing in the whole town looked old to 
me, except the mud, which in some parts was 
almost knee-deep, and might have been deposited 
there, on the subsiding of the waters after the 
Deluge. In one place, there was a new wooden 
church, which, having no steeple, and being yet 
unpainted, looked like an enormous packing-case 



FACTORY SYSTEM. 153 

without any direction upon it. In another there 
was a large hotel, whose walls and colonnades were 
so crisp, and thin, and slight, that it had exactly 
the appearance of being built with cards. I was 
careful not to draw my breath as we passed, and 
trembled when I saw a workman come out upon 
the roof, lest with one thoughtless stamp of his 
foot he should crush the structure beneath him, 
and bring it rattling down. The very river that 
moves the machinery in the mills (for they are all 
worked by water power), seems to acquire a new 
character from the fresh buildings of bright red 
brick and painted wood among which it takes its 
course ; and to be as light-headed, thoughtless, 
and brisk a young river, in its murmurings and 
tumblings, as one would desire to see. One would 
swear that every " Bakery," " Grocery," and 
<c Bookbindery," and other kind of store, took its 
shutters down for the first time, and started in 
business yesterday. The golden pestles and 
mortars fixed as signs upon the sun-blind frames 
outside the Druggists, appear to have been just 



154 LOWELL, AND ITS 

turned out of the United States' Mint ; and when 
I saw a baby of some week or ten days old in a 
woman's arms at a street corner, I found myself 
unconsciously wondering where it came from : 
never supposing for an instant that it could have 
been born in such a young town as that. 

There are several factories in Lowell, each of 
which belongs to what we should term a Company 
of Proprietors, but what they call in A merica a 
Corporation. I went over several of these ; such 
as a woollen factory, a carpet factory, and a cotton 
factory : examined them in every part ; and saw 
them in their ordinary working aspect, with no 
preparation of any kind, or departure from their 
ordinary every-day proceedings. I may add 
that I am well acquainted with our manufac 
turing towns in England, and have visited many 
mills in Manchester and elsewhere in the same 
manner. 

I happened to arrive at the first factory just as 
the dinner hour was over, and the girls were re 
turning to their work; indeed the stairs of the 



FACTORY SYSTEM. 155 

mill were thronged with them as 1 ascended. 
They were all well-dressed, but not to my thinking 
above their condition : for I like to see the humbler 
classes of society careful of their dress and ap 
pearance, and even, if they please, decorated with ' 
such little trinkets as come within the compass of 
their means. Supposing it confined within reason 
able limits, I would always encourage this kind of 
pride, as a worthy element of self-respect, in any 
person I employed ; and should no more be de 
terred from doing so, because some wretched 
female referred her fall to a love of dress, than I 
would allow my construction of the real intent and 
meaning of the Sabbath to be influenced by any 
warning to the well-disposed, founded on his back- 
slidings on that particular day, which might ema 
nate from the rather doubtful authority of a 
murderer in Newgate. 

These girls, as I have said, were all well dressed : 
and that phrase necessarily includes extreme 
cleanliness. They had serviceable bonnets, good 
warm cloaks, and shawls; and were not above 



156 LOWELL, AND ITS 

clogs and pattens. Moreover, there were places 
in the mill in which they could deposit these 
things without injury ; and there were conve 
niences for washing. They were healthy in ap 
pearance, many of them remarkably so, and had 
the manners and deportment of young women : 
not of degraded brutes of burden. If I had seen in 
one of those mills (but I did not, though I looked 
for something of this kind with a sharp eye), the 
most lisping, mincing, affected, and ridiculous 
young creature that my imagination could suggest, 
I should have thought of the careless, moping, 
slatternly, degraded, dull reverse (I have seen 
that), and should have been still well pleased to 
look upon her. 

The rooms in which they worked, were as well 
ordered as themselves. In the windows of some, 
there were green plants, which were trained to 
shade the glass ; in all, there was as much fresh 
air, cleanliness, and comfort, as the nature of the 
occupation would possibly admit of. Out of so 
large a number of females, many of whom were 



FACTORY SYSTEM. 157 

only then just verging upon womanhood, it may 
be reasonably supposed that some were delicate 
and fragile in appearance : no doubt there were. 
But I solemnly declare, that from all the crowd I 
saw in the different factories that day, I cannot 
recal or separate one young face that gave me a 
painful impression ; not one young girl whom, 
assuming it to be matter of necessity that she 
should gain her daily bread by the labour of her 
hands, I would have removed from those works 
if I had had the power. 

They reside in various boarding-houses near at 
hand. The owners of the mills are particularly 
careful to allow no persons to enter upon the 
possession of these houses, whose characters have 
not undergone the most searching and thorough 
inquiry. Any complaint that is made against 
them, by the boarders, or by any one else, is fully 
investigated ; and if good ground of complaint be 
shown to exist against them, they are removed, 
and their occupation is handed over to some more 
deserving person. There are a few children em- 



158 LOWELL, AND ITS 

ployed in these factories, but not many. The 
laws of the State forbid their working more than 
nine months in the year, and require that they be 
educated during the other three. For this pur 
pose there are schools in Lowell ; and there are 
churches and chapels of various persuasions, in 
which the young women may observe that form 
of Worship in which they have been educated. 

At some distance from the factories, and on the 
highest and pleasantest ground in the neighbour 
hood, stands their hospital, or boarding- house for 
the sick : it is the best house in those parts, and 
was built by an eminent merchant for his own 
residence. Like that institution at Boston which 
I have before described, it is not parcelled 
out into wards, but is divided into convenient 
chambers, each of which has all the comforts of a 
very comfortable home. The principal medical 
attendant resides under the same roof; and were 
the patients, members of his own family, they could 
not be better cared for, or attended with greater 
gentleness and consideration. The weekly charge 



PACTORY SYSTEM. 159 

in this establishment for each female patient is 
three dollars, or twelve shillings English ; but no 
girl employed by any of the corporations is ever 
excluded for want of the means of payment. That 
they do not very often want the means, may be 
gathered from the fact, that in July 1841 no fewer 
than nine hundred and seventy-eight of these girls 
were depositors in the Lowell Savings Bank : the 
amount of whose joint savings was estimated at 
one hundred thousand dollars, or twenty thousand 
English pounds. 

I am now going to state three facts, which will 
startle a large class of readers on this side of the 
Atlantic, very much. 

Firstly, there is a joint-stock piano in a great 
many of the boarding-houses. Secondly, nearly 
all these young ladies subscribe to circulating 
libraries. Thirdly, they have got up among 
themselves a periodical called THE LOWELL OF 
FERING, "A repository of original articles, written 
exclusively by females actively employed in the 
mills," which is duly printed, published, and sold; 



160 LOWELL, AND ITS 

and whereof I brought away from Lowell four 
hundred good solid pages, which I have read from 
beginning to end. 

The large class of readers, startled by these 
facts, will exclaim, with one voice, " How very 
preposterous !" On my deferentially inquiring 
why, they will answer, " These things are above 
their station." In reply to that objection, I 
would beg to ask what their station is. 

It is their station to work. And they do 
work. They labour in these mills, upon an 
average, twelve hours a day, which is unquestion 
ably work, and pretty tight work too. Per 
haps it is above their station to indulge in such 
amusements, on any terms. Are we quite sure 
that we in England have not formed our ideas of 
the "station" of working people, from accus 
toming ourselves to the contemplation of that 
class as they are, and not as they might be? 
I think that if we examine our own feelings, we 
shall find that the pianos, and the circulating 
libraries, and even the Lowell Offering, startle us 



FACTORY SYSTEM. 1G1 

by their novelty, and not by their bearing upon 
any abstract question of right or wrong. 

For myself, I know no station in which, the 
occupation of to-day cheerfully done and the 
occupation of to-morrow cheerfully looked to, 
any o'ne of these pursuits is not most humanizing 
and laudable. I know no station which is ren 
dered more endurable to the person in it, or more 
safe to the person out of it, by having ignorance 
for its associate. I know no station which has a 
right to monopolize the means of mutual instruc 
tion, improvement, and rational entertainment ; 
or which has ever continued to be a station very 
long, after seeking to do so. 

Of the merits of the Lowell Offering as a 
literary production, I will only observe, putting 
entirely out of sight the fact of the articles 
having been written by these girls after the 
arduous labours of the day, that it will com 
pare advantageously with a great many English 
Annuals. It is pleasant to find that many of its 
Tales are of the Mills and of those who work in 

VOL. I. M 



162 LOWELL, AND ITS 

them ; that they inculcate habits of self-denial and 
contentment, and teach good doctrines of enlarged 
benevolence. A strong feeling for the beauties of 
nature, as displayed in the solitudes the writers have 
left at home, breathes through its pages like whole 
some village air ; and though a circulating library 
is a favourable school for the study of such topics, 
it has very scant allusion to fine clothes, fine 
marriages, fine houses, or fine life. Some persons 
might object to the papers being signed occa 
sionally with rather fine names, but this is an 
American fashion. One of the provinces of the 
state legislature of Massachusetts is to alter ugly 
names into pretty ones, as the children improve 
upon the tastes of their parents. These changes 
costing little or nothing, scores of Mary Annes are 
solemnly converted into Bevelinas every session. 

It is said that on the occasion of a visit from 
General Jackson or General Harrison to this 
town (I forget which, but it is not to the pur 
pose), he walked through three miles and a half 
of these young ladies, all dressed out with parasols 



FACTORY SYSTEM. 163 

and silk stockings. But as I am not aware 
that any worse consequence ensued, than a sudden 
looking-up of all the parasols and silk stockings 
in the market; and perhaps the bankruptcy of 
some speculative New Englander who bought them 
all up at any price, in expectation of a demand 
that never came ; I set no great store by the cir 
cumstance. 

In this brief account of Lowell, and inadequate 
expression of the gratification it yielded me, and 
cannot fail to afford to any foreigner to whom the 
condition of such people at home is a subject of 
interest and anxious speculation, I have carefully 
abstained from drawing a comparison between 
these factories and those of our own land. Many 
of the circumstances whose strong influence has 
been at work for years in our manufacturing towns 
have not arisen here ; and there is no manu 
facturing population in Lowell, so to speak : for 
these girls (often the daughters of small farmers) 
come from other States, remain a few years in the 
mills, and then go home for good. 

M 2 



164 LOWELL, AND ITS 

The contrast would be a strong one, for it 
would be between the Good and Evil, the living 
light and deepest shadow. I abstain from it, 
because I deem it just to do so. But I only the 
more earnestly adjure all those whose eyes may 
rest on these pages, to pause and reflect upon the 
difference between this town and those great 
haunts of desperate misery : to call to mind, if 
they can in the midst of party strife and squabble, 
the efforts that must be made to purge them of 
their suffering and danger: and last, and fore 
most, to remember how the precious Time is 
rushing by. 

I returned at night by the same railroad and in 
the same kind of car. One of the passengers 
being exceedingly anxious to expound at great 
length to my companion (not to me, of course) 
the true principles on which books of travel in 
America should be written by Englishmen, I 
feigned to fall asleep. But glancing all the way 
out at window from the corners of my eyes, I 
found abundance of entertainment for the rest of 



FACTORY SYSTEM. 165 

the ride in watching the effects of the wood fire, 
which had been invisible in the morning but were 
now brought out in full relief by the darkness : 
for we were travelling in a whirlwind of bright 
sparks, which showered about us like a storm of 
fiery snow* 



WORCESTER TO NEW YORK. 



CHAPTER THE FIFTH. 

WORCESTER. THE CONNECTICUT RIVER. HARTFORD. 
NEW HAVEN. TO NEW YORK. 

LEAVING Boston on the afternoon of Saturday 
the fifth of February, we proceeded by another 
railroad to Worcester : a pretty New England 
town, where we had arranged to remain under the 
hospitable roof of the Governor of the State, until 
Monday morning. 

These towns and cities of New England (many 
of which would be villages in Old England), are as 
favourable specimens of rural America, as their 
people are of rural Americans. The well-trimmed 
lawns and green meadows of home are not there ; 
and the grass, compared with our ornamental plots 
and pastures, is rank, and rough, and wild : but 



170 WORCESTER. 

delicate slopes of land, gently-swelling hills, wooded 
valleys, and slender streams, abound. Every little 
colony of houses has its church and school -house 
peeping from among the white roofs and shady 
trees; every house is the whitest of the white; 
every Venetian blind the greenest of the green ; 
every fine day's sky the bluest of the blue. A 
sharp dry wind and a slight frost had so hardened 
the roads when we alighted at Worcester, that 
their furrowed tracks were like ridges of granite. 
There was the usual aspect of newness on every 
object, of course. All the buildings looked as if 
they had been built and painted that morning, and 
could be taken down on Monday with very little 
trouble. In the keen evening air, every sharp out 
line looked a hundred times sharper than ever. 
The clean cardboard colonnades had no more per 
spective than a Chinese bridge on a tea-cup, and 
appeared equally well calculated for use. The 
razor-like edges of the detached cottages seemed 
to cut the very wind as it whistled against them, 
and to send it smarting on its way with a shriller 



WORCESTER, 171 

cry than before. Those slightly-built wooden dwell 
ings behind which the sun was setting with a 
brilliant lustre, could be so looked through and 
through, that the idea of any inhabitant being able 
to hide himself from the public gaze, or to have 
any secrets from the public eye, was not enter- 
tainable for a moment. Even where a blazing fire 
shone through the uncurtained windows of some 
distant house, it had the air of being newly-lighted, 
and of lacking warmth ; and instead of awakening 
thoughts of a snug chamber, bright with faces that 
first saw the light round that same hearth, and 
ruddy with warm hangings, it came upon one 
suggestive of the smell of new mortar and damp 
walls. 

So I thought, at least, that evening. Next 
morning when the sun was shining brightly, and 
the clear church bells were ringing, and sedate 
people in their best clothes enlivened the pathway 
near at hand and dotted the distant thread of 
road, there was a pleasant Sabbath peacefulness 
on everything, which it was good to feel. It would 



172 HARTFORD. 

have been the better for an old church; better 
still for some old graves ; but as it was, a whole 
some repose and tranquillity pervaded the scene, 
which after the restless ocean and the hurried city, 
had a doubly grateful influence on the spirits. 

"We went on next morning, still by railroad, 
to Springfield. From that place to Hartford, 
whither we were bound, is a distance of only five- 
and -twenty miles, but at that time of the year the 
roads were so bad that the journey would probably 
have occupied ten or twelve hours. Fortunately, 
however, the winter having been unusually mild, 
the Connecticut River was " open," or, in other 
words, not frozen. The captain of a small steam 
boat was going to make his first trip for the season 
that day (the second February trip, I believe, 
within the memory of man), and only waited for 
us to go on board. Accordingly, we went on 
board, with as little delay as might be. He was 
as good as his word, and started directly. 

It certainly was not called a small steam-boat 
without reason. I omitted to ask the question, 



HARTFORD. 



but I should think it must have been of about half 
a pony power. Mr. Paap, the celebrated Dwarf, 
might have lived and died happily in the cabin, 
which was fitted with common sash-windows 
like an ordinary dwelling-house. These windows 
had bright-red curtains, too, hung on slack strings 
across the lower panes ; so that it looked like the 
parlour of a Lilliputian public-house, which had got 
afloat in a flood or some other water accident, and 
was drifting nobody knew where. But even in 
this chamber there was a rocking-chair. It 
would be impossible to get on anywhere, in 
America, without a rocking-chair. 

I am afraid to tell how many feet short this 
vessel was, or how many feet narrow : to apply 
the words length and width to such measurement 
would be a contradiction in terms. But I may 
state that we all kept the middle of the deck, lest 
the boat should unexpectedly tip over ; and that 
the machinery, by some surprising process of con 
densation, worked between it and the keel: the 
whole forming a warm sandwich, about three feet 
thick. 



174 HARTFORD. 

It rained all day as I once thought it never did 
rain anywhere, but in the Highlands of Scotland. 
The river was full of floating blocks of ice, which 
were constantly crunching and cracking under us ; 
and the depth of water, in the course we took to 
avoid the larger masses, carried down the middle 
of the river by the current, did not exceed a few 
inches. Nevertheless, we moved onward, dex 
terously ; and being well wrapped up, bade de 
fiance to the weather, and enjoyed the journey. 
The Connecticut River is a fine stream ; and the 
banks in summer-time are, I have no doubt, 
beautiful : at all events, I was told so by a young 
lady in the cabin ; and she should be a judge of 
beauty, if the possession of a quality include the 
appreciation of it, for a more beautiful creature I 
never looked upon. 

After two hours and a half of this odd travelling 
(including a stoppage at a small town, where we 
were saluted by a gun considerably bigger than 
our own chimney), we reached Hartford, and 
straightway repaired to an extremely comfortable 



HARTFORD. 175 

hotel : except, as usual, in the article of bed 
rooms, which, in almost every place we visited, 
were very conducive to early rising. 

We tarried here, four days. The town is beau 
tifully situated in a basin of green hills ; the soil is 
rich, well-wooded, and carefully improved. It is 
the seat of the local legislature of Connecticut, 
which sage body enacted, in bygone times, the 
renowned code of " Blue Laws," in virtue whereof, 
among other enlightened provisions, any citizen 
who could be proved to have kissed his wife on 
Sunday, was punishable, I believe, with the stocks. 
Too much of the old Puritan spirit exists in these 
parts to the present hour ; but its influence has 
not tended, that I know, to make the people less 
hard in their bargains, or more equal in their 
dealings. As I never heard of its working that 
effect anywhere else, I infer that it never will, 
here. Indeed, I am accustomed, with reference 
to great professions and severe faces, to judge of 
the goods of the other world pretty much as I 
judge of the goods of this ; and whenever I see a 



176 HARTFORD. 

dealer in such commodities with too great a display 
of them in his window, I doubt the quality of the 
article within. 

In Hertford stands the famous oak in which the 
charter of King Charles was hidden. It is now 
inclosed in a gentleman's garden. In the State- 
house is the charter itself. I found the courts of 
law here, just the same as at Boston ; the public 
Institutions almost as good. The Insane Asylum 
is admirably conducted, and so is the Institution 
for the Deaf and Dumb. 

I very much questioned within myself, as I walked 
through the Insane Asylum, whether I should 
have known the attendants from the patients, but 
for the few words which passed between the 
former, and the Doctor, in reference to the persons 
under their charge. Of course I limit this remark 
merely to their looks ; for the conversation of the 
mad people was mad enough. 

There was one little prim old lady, of very 
smiling and good-humoured appearance, who 
came sidling up to me from the end of a long 



HARTFORD. 177 

passage, and with a curtsey of inexpressible con 
descension, propounded this unaccountable in 
quiry : 

" Does Pontefract still flourish, Sir, upon the 
soil of England !" 

" He does, Ma'am," I rejoined. 

" When you last saw him, Sir, he was " 

" Well, Ma'am," said I, " extremely well. He 
begged me to present his compliments. I never 
saw him looking better." 

At this, the old lady was very much delighted. 
After glancing at me for a moment, as if to be 
quite sure that I was serious in my respectful air, 
she sidled back some paces ; sidled forward again ; 
made a sudden skip (at which I precipitately 
retreated a step or two) ; and said : 

" / am an antediluvian, Sir." 

I thought the best thing to say was, that I had 
suspected as much from the first. Therefore I 
said so. 

" It is an extremely proud and pleasant thing, 
Sir, to be an antediluvian," said the old lady. 

VOL. I. N 



178 HARTFORD. 

" I should think it was, Ma'am," I rejoined. 

The old lady kissed her hand, gave another 
skip, smirked and sidled down the gallery in a most 
extraordinary manner, and ambled gracefully into 
her own bed-chamber. 

In another part of the building, there was a 
male patient in bed ; very much flushed and 
heated. 

" Well ! " said he, starting up, and pulling off 
his night-cap : " It's all settled, at last. I have 
arranged it with queen Victoria." 

" Arranged what 2 " asked the Doctor. 

" Why, that business," passing his hand wearily 
across his forehead, " about the siege of New 
York/ 1 

" Oh ! " said I, like a man suddenly enlightened. 
For he looked at me for an answer. 

" Yes. Every house without a signal will be 
fired upon by the British troops. No harm will 
be done to the others. No harm at all. Those 
that want to be safe, must hoist flags. That's all 
they'll have to do. They must hoist flags." 



HARTFORD. 179 

Even while he was speaking, he seemed, I 
thought, to have some faint idea that his talk was 
incoherent. Directly he had said these words, he 
lay down again ; gave a kind of groan ; and covered 
his hot head with the blankets. 

There was another : a young man, whose mad 
ness was love and music. After playing on the 
accordion a march he had composed, he was very 
anxious that I should walk into his chamber, 
which I immediately did. 

By way of being very knowing, and humouring 
him to the top of his bent, I went to the win 
dow, which commanded a beautiful prospect, and 
remarked, with an address upon which I greatly 
plumed myself: 

" What a delicious country you have about 
these lodgings of yours." 

"Poh P said he, moving his fingers carelessly 
over the notes of his instrument : " Well enough for 
such an Institution as this /" 

I don't think I was ever so taken aback in all 
my life. 

if 2 



180 HARTFORD. 

" I come here just for a whim," he said coolly. 
" That's all." 

Oh ! That's all !" said I. 

" Yes. That's all. The Doctor *B a smart man. 
He quite enters into it. It's a joke of mine. I 
like it for a time. You needn't mention it, but I 
think I shall go out next Tuesday !" 

I assured him that I would consider our inter 
view perfectly confidential; and rejoined the 
Doctor. As we were passing through a gallery 
on our way out, a well-dressed lady, of quiet and 
composed manners, came up, and proffering a slip 
of paper and a pen, begged that I would oblige 
her with an autograph. I complied, and we 
parted. 

" I think I remember having had a few inter 
views like that, with ladies out of doors. I hope 
she is not mad ' 

" Yes." 

" On what subject ! Autographs T 

" No. She hears voices in the air." 

" Well r thought I, " it would be well if we 



HARTFORD. 181 

could shut up a few false prophets of these later 
times, who have professed to do the same ; and I 
should like to try the experiment on a Mormonist 
or two to begin with." 

In this place, there is the best Jail for untried 
offenders in the world. There is also a very well- 
ordered State prison, arranged upon the same 
plan as that at Boston, except that here, there is 
always a sentry on the wall with a loaded gun. 
It contained at that time about two hundred pri 
soners. A spot was shown me in the sleeping ward, 
where a watchman was murdered some years since 
in the dead of night, in a desperate attempt to 
escape, made by a prisoner who had broken from 
his cell. A woman, too, was pointed out to me, 
who, for the murder of her husband, had been a 
close prisoner for sixteen years. 

" Do you think," I asked of my conductor, 
" that after so very long an imprisonment, she 
has any thought or hope of ever regaining her 
liberty T 

" Oh dear yes," he answered. "To be sure 
she has." 



182 HARTFORD. 

"She has no chance of obtaining it, I suppose?" 

44 Well, I don't know :" which, by the bye, is a 
national answer. u Her friends mistrust her." 

" What have they to do with it T I naturally 
inquired. 

" Well, they won't petition/' 

" But if they did, they couldn't get her out, I 
suppose f ' 

" Well, not the first time, perhaps, nor yet the 
second, but tiring and wearying for a few years 
might do it." 

" Does that ever do it I" 

" Why yes, that'll do it sometimes. Political 
friends '11 do it sometimes. It's pretty often done, 
one way or another." 

I shall always entertain a very pleasant and 
grateful recollection of Hartford. It is a lovely 
place, and I had many friends there, whom I can 
never remember with indifference. We left it 
with no little regret on the evening of Friday 
the llth, and travelled that night by railroad to 
New Haven. Upon the way, the guard and I 



NEW HAVEN. 183 

were formally introduced to each other (as we 
usually were on such occasions), and exchanged a 
variety of small-talk. We reached New Haven 
at about eight o'clock, after a journey of three 
hours, and put up for the night at the best inn. 

New Haven, known also as the City of Elms, is 
a fine town. Many of its streets (as its alias suf 
ficiently imports) are planted with rows of grand 
old elm-trees ; and the same natural ornaments 
surround Yale College, an establishment of consi 
derable eminence and reputation. The various 
departments of this Institution are erected in a 
kind of park or common in the middle of the town, 
where they are dimly visible among the shadowing 
trees. The effect is very like that of an old cathe 
dral yard in England ; and when their branches 
are in full leaf, must be extremely picturesque. 
Even in the winter time, these groups of well- 
grown trees, clustering among the busy streets and 
houses of a thriving city, have a very quaint appear 
ance : seeming to bring about a kind of compromise 
between town and country ; as if each had met the 



184 NEW HAVEN TO NEW YOKK. 

other half-way, and shaken hands upon it ; which 
is at once novel and pleasant. 

After a night's rest, we rose early, and in good 
time went down to the wharf, and on board the 
packet New York^/or New York. This was the first 
American steamboat of any size that I had seen ; 
and certainly to an English eye it was infinitely less 
like a steamboat than a huge floating-bath. I could 
hardly persuade myself, indeed, but that the bath 
ing establishment off Westminster Bridge, which I 
left a baby, had suddenly grown to an enormous 
size ; run away from home ; and set up in foreign 
parts as a steamer. Being in America too, which 
our vagabonds do so particularly favour, it seemed 
the more probable. 

The great difference in appearance between 
these packets and ours, is, that there is so 
much of them out of the water : the main- deck 
being enclosed on all sides, and filled with casks 
and goods, like any second or third floor in a stack 
of warehouses ; and the promenade or hurricane- 
deck being a-top of that again. A part of the 



NEW HAVEN TO NEW YORK. 185 

machinery is always above this deck ; where the 
connecting-rod, in a strong and lofty frame, is seen 
working away like an iron top-sawyer. There is 
seldom any mast or tackle : nothing aloft but two 
tall black chimneys. The man at the helm is shut 
up in a little house in the fore part of the boat (the 
wheel being connected with the rudder by iron 
chains, working the whole length of the deck); 
and the passengers, unless the weather be very fine 
indeed, usually congregate below. Directly you 
have left the wharf, all the life, and stir, and bustle 
of a packet cease. You wonder for a long time 
how she goes on, for there seems to be nobody in 
charge of her ; and when another of these dull 
machines comes splashing by, you feel quite indig 
nant with it, as a sullen, cumbrous, ungraceful, 
unshiplike leviathan : quite forgetting that the 
vessel you are on board of, is its very counterpart. 
There is always a clerk's office on the lower 
deck, where you pay your fare ; a ladies' cabin ; 
baggage and stowage rooms ; engineer's room ; 
and in short a great variety of perplexities which 



186 NEW HAVEN TO NEW YORK. 

render the discovery of the gentlemen's cabin, a 
matter of some difficulty. It often occupies the 
whole length of the boat (as it did in this case), 
and has three or four tiers of berths on each side. 
When I first descended into the cabin of the New 
York, it looked, in my unaccustomed eyes, about 
as long as the Burlington Arcade. 

The Sound which has to be crossed on this 
passage, is not always a very safe or pleasant 
navigation, and has been the scene of some unfor 
tunate accidents. It was a wet morning, and very 
misty, and we soon lost sight of land. The day 
was calm, however, and brightened towards noon. 
After exhausting (with good help from a friend) 
the larder, and the stock of bottled beer, I lay 
down to sleep : being very much tired with the 
fatigues of yesterday. But I awoke from my 
nap in time to hurry up, and see Hell Gate, the 
Hog's Back, the Frying Pan, and other notorious 
localities, attractive to all readers of famous 
Diedrich Knickerbocker's History. We were 
now in a narrow channel, with sloping banks on 



NEW HAVEN TO NEW YORK. 187 

either side, besprinkled with pleasant villas, and 
made refreshing to the sight by turf and trees. 
Soon we shot in quick succession, past a lighthouse ; 
a madhouse (how the lunatics flung up their caps, 
and roared in sympathy with the headlong engine 
and the driving tide !) ; a jail ; and other build 
ings ; and so emerged into a noble bay, whose 
waters sparkled in the now cloudless sunshine like 
Nature"^ eyes turned up to Heaven. 

Then there lay stretched out before us, to the 
right, confused heaps of buildings, with here 
and there a spire or steeple, looking down upon 
the herd below; and here and there, again, 
a cloud of lazy smoke ; and in the foreground a 
forest of ships' masts, cheery with flapping sails 
and waving flags. Crossing from among them to the 
opposite shore, were steam ferry-boats laden with 
people, coaches, horses, waggons, baskets, boxes : 
crossed and recrossed by other ferry-boats : all 
travelling to and fro: and never idle. Stately 
among these restless Insects, were two or three 
large ships, moving with slow majestic pace, as 



188 NEW HAVEN TO NEW YORK. 

creatures of a prouder kind, disdainful of their 
puny journeys, and making for the broad sea. 
Beyond, were shining heights, and islands in the 
glancing river, and a distance scarcely less blue 
and bright than the sky it seemed to meet. The 
city's hum and buzz, the clinking of capstans, the 
ringing of bells, the barking of dogs, the clatter 
ing of wheels, tingled in the listening ear. All of 
which life and stir, coming across the stirring water, 
caught new life and animation from its free com 
panionship ; and, sympathising with its buoyant 
spirits, glistened as it seemed in sport upon its 
surface, and hemmed the vessel round, and plashed 
the water high about her sides, and, floating her 
gallantly into the dock, flew off again to welcome 
other comers, and speed before them to the busy 
Port. 



NEW YORK. 



CHAPTER THE SIXTH. 

NEW YORK. 

THE beautiful metropolis of America is by no 
means so clean a city as Boston, but many of its 
streets have the same characteristics ; except that 
the houses are not quite so fresh-coloured, the 
sign-boards are not quite so gaudy, the gilded 
letters not quite so golden, the bricks not quite so 
red, the stone not quite so white, the blinds and 
area railings not quite so green, the knobs and 
plates upon the street doors, not quite so bright and 
twinkling. There are many bye-streets, almost as 
neutral in clean colours, and positive in dirty 
ones, as bye-streets in London ; and there is one 
quarter, commonly called the Five Points, which, 



192 NEW YORK. 

in respect of filth and wretchedness, may be safely 
backed against Seven Dials, or any other part of 
famed St. Giles's. 

The great promenade and thoroughfare, as 
most people know, is Broadway ; a wide and 
bustling street, which, from the Battery Gar dens to 
its opposite termination in a country road, maybe 
four miles long. Shall we sit down in an upper 
floor of the Carlton House Hotel (situated in the 
best part of this main artery of New York), and 
when we are tired of looking down upon the life 
below, sally forth arm-in-arm, and mingle with 
the stream? 

Warm weather! The sun strikes upon our 
heads at this open window, as though its rays 
were concentrated through a burning-glass ; but 
the day is in its zenith, antl the season an unusual 
one. Was there ever such a sunny street as this 
Broadway ! The pavement stones are polished 
with the tread of feet until they shine again ; the 
red bricks of the houses might be yet in the dry, 



NEW YORK. 193 

hot kilns ; and the roofs of those omnibuses look as 
though, if water were poured on them, they would 
hiss and smoke, and smell like half-quenched fires. 
No stint of omnibuses here ! Half a dozen have 
gone by within as many minutes. Plenty of hack 
ney cabs and coaches too ; gigs, phaetons, large- 
wheeled tilburies, and private carriages rather of 
a clumsy make, and not very different from the 
public vehicles, but built for the heavy roads 
beyond the city pavement. Negro coachmen and 
white ; in straw hats, black hats, white hats, glazed 
caps, fur caps ; in coats of drab, black, brown, 
green, blue, nankeen, striped jean and linen ; and 
there, in that one instance (look while it passes, 
or it will be too late), in suits of livery. Some 
southern republican that, who puts his blacks in 
uniform, and swells with Sultan pomp and power. 
Yonder, where that phaeton with the well-clipped 
pair of grays has stopped standing at their heads 
now is a Yorkshire groom, who has not been very 
long in these parts, and looks sorrowfully round for 
a companion pair of top-boots, which he may tra- 

VOL. I. 






194 NEW YORK. 

verse the city half a year without meeting. Heaven 
save the ladies, how they dress ! We have seen 
more colours in these ten minutes, than we should 
have seen elsewhere, in as many days. What various 
parasols ! what rainbow silks and satins ! what 
pinking of thin stockings, and pinching of thin 
shoes, and fluttering of ribbons and silk tassels, 
and display of rich cloaks with gaudy hoods and 
linings ! The young gentlemen are fond, you see, 
of turning down their shirt-collars and cultivating 
their whiskers, especially under the chin ; but they 
cannot approach the ladies in their dress or bear 
ing, being, to say the truth, humanity of quite 
another sort. Byrons of the desk and counter, 
pass on, and let us see what kind of men those 
are behind ye : those two labourers in holiday 
clothes, of whom one carries in his hand a crum 
pled scrap of paper from which he tries to spell 
out a hard name, while the other looks about for 
it on all the doors and windows. 

Irishmen both ! You might know them, if they 
were masked, by their long-tailed blue coats and 



NEW YORK. 195 

bright buttons, and their drab trousers, which they 
wear like men well used to working dresses, who 
are easy in no others. It would be hard to keep 
your model republics going, without the country 
men and countrywomen of those two labourers. 
For who else would dig, and delve, and drudge, 
and do domestic work, and make canals and roads, 
and execute great lines of Internal Improvement ! 
Irishmen both, and sorely puzzled too, to find 
out what they seek. Let us go down, and help 
them, for the love of home, and that spirit of 
liberty which admits of honest service to honest 
men, and honest work for honest bread, no matter 
what it be. 

That's well ! We have got at the right address 
at last, though it is written in strange characters 
truly, and might have been scrawled with the 
blunt handle of the spade the writer better knows 
the use of, than a pen. Their way lies yonder, 
but what business takes them there ? They carry 
savings : to hoard up ? No. They are brothers, 
those men. One crossed the sea alone, and work- 
02 



196 NEW YORK. 

ing very hard for one half year, and living harder, 
saved funds enough to bring the other out. That 
done, they worked together, side by side, content 
edly sharing hard labour and hard living for an 
other term, and then their sisters came, and then 
another brother, and, lastly, their old mother. 
And what now? Why, the poor old crone is 
restless in a strange land, and yearns to lay her 
bones, she says, among her people in the old grave 
yard at home : and so they go to pay her passage 
back : and God help her and them, and every simple 
heart, and all who turn to the Jerusalem of their 
younger days, and have an altar-fire upon the cold 
hearth of their fathers. 

This narrow thoroughfare, baking and blister 
ing in the sun, is Wall Street : the Stock Ex 
change and Lombard Street of New York. Many 
a rapid fortune has been made in this street, and 
many a no less rapid ruin. Some of these very 
merchants whom you see hanging about here now, 
have locked up Money in their strong-boxes, like 
the man in the Arabian Nights, and opening them 



NEW YORK. 197 

again, have found but withered leaves. Below, here 
by the water side, where the bowsprits of ships 
stretch across the footway, and almost thrust 
themselves into the windows, lie the noble Ameri 
can vessels which have made their Packet Service 
the finest in the world. They have brought hither 
the foreigners who abound in all the streets : not 
perhaps, that there are more here, than in other 
commercial cities ; but elsewhere, they have parti 
cular haunts, and you must find them out ; here, 
they pervade the town. 

We must cross Broadway again ; gaining some 
refreshment from the heat, in the sight of the 
great blocks of clean ice which are being carried 
into shops and bar-rooms ; and the pine-apples and 
water-melons profusely displayed for sale. Fine 
streets of spacious houses here, you see ! Wall 
Street has furnished and dismantled many of them 
very often and here a deep green leafy square. 
Be sure that is a hospitable house with inmates 
to be affectionately remembered always, where they 
have the open door and pretty show of plants 



198 NEW YORK. 

within, and where the child with laughing eyes is 
peeping out of window at the little dog below. 
You wonder what may be the use of this tall flag 
staff in the bye street, with something like 
Liberty's head-dress on its top : so do I. But 
there is a passion for tall flagstaffs hereabout, and 
you may see its twin brother in five minutes, if 
you have a mind. 

Again across Broadway, and so passing from 
the many-coloured crowd and glittering shops- 
into another long main street, the Bowery. A 
railroad yonder, see, where two stout horses trot 
along, drawing a score or two of people and a great 
wooden ark, with ease. The stores are poorer 
here; the passengers less gay. Clothes ready- 
made, and meat ready-cooked, are to be bought in 
these parts ; and the lively whirl of carriages is 
exchanged for the deep rumble of carts and 
waggons. These signs which are so plentiful, in 
shape like river buoys, or small balloons, hoisted 
by cords to poles, and dangling there, announce, 
as you may see by looking up, " OYSTERS IN EVERY 



NEW YORK. 199 

STYLE." They tempt the hungry most at night, 
for then dull candles glimmering inside, illuminate 
these dainty words, and make the mouths of idlers 
water, as they read and linger. 

What is this dismal-fronted pile of bastard 
Egyptian, like an enchanter's palace in a me lo 
drama ! a famous prison, called The Tombs. 
Shall we go in ? 

So. A long narrow lofty building, stove-heated 
as usual, with four galleries, one above the other, 
going round it, and communicating by stairs. 
Between the two sides of each gallery, and in its 
centre, a bridge, for the greater convenience of 
crossing. On each of these bridges sits a man : 
dozing or reading, or talking to an idle companion. 
On each tier, are two opposite rows of small iron 
doors. They look like furnace doors, but are cold 
and black, as though the fires within had all 
gone out. Some two or three are open, and 
women, with drooping heads bent down, are 
talking to the inmates. The whole is lighted by 
a skylight, but it is fast closed : and from the 



200 NEW YORK, 

roof there dangle, limp and drooping, two useless 
windsails. 

A man with keys appears, to show us round. 
A good-looking fellow, and, in his way, civil and 
obliging. 

" Are those black doors the cells I" 

" Yes." 

" Are they all full !** 

" Well, they're pretty nigh full, and that 's a 
fact, and no two ways about it." 

" Those at the bottom are unwholesome, surely?" 

" Why, we do only put coloured people in 'em. 
That 's the truth." 

" When do the prisoners take exercise?" 

" Well, they do without it pretty much." 

" Do they never walk in the yard ? " 

" Considerable seldom." 

" Sometimes, I suppose !" 

" Well, it's rare they do. They keep pretty 
bright without it." 

" But suppose a man were here for a twelve 
month. I know this is only a prison for criminals 



NEW YORK. 201 

who are charged with grave offences, while they 
are awaiting their trial, or are under remand, but 
the law here, affords criminals many means of delay. 
What with motions for new trial, and in arrest of 
judgment, and what not, a prisoner might be here 
for twelve months, I take it, might he not ?" 

" Well, I guess he might." 

" Do you mean to say that in all that time he 
would never come out at that little iron door, for 
exerciser' 

" He might walk some, perhaps not much." 

" Will you open one of the doors ?" 

" All, if you like." 

The fastenings jar and rattle, and one of the 
doors turns slowly on its hinges. Let us look in. 
A small bare cell, into which the light enters 
through a high chink in the wall. There is a 
rude means of washing, a table, and a bedstead. 
Upon the latter, sits a man of sixty ; reading. 
He looks up for a moment ; gives an impatient 
dogged shake ; and fixes his eyes upon his book 
again. As we withdraw our heads, the door 



202 NEW YORK. 

closes on him, and is fastened as before. This 
man has murdered his wife, and will probably be 
hanged. 

" How long has he been here I " 

" A month. 11 

"When will he be tried?" 

" Next term." 

" When is that?" 

" Next month." 

" In England, if a man be under sentence of 
death, even, he has air and exercise at certain 
periods of the day." 

" Possible ?" 

With what stupendous and untranslatable cool 
ness he says this, and how loungingly he leads on 
to the women's side : making, as he goes, a kind 
of iron Castanet of the key and the stair-rail! 

Each cell door on this side has a square aper 
ture in it. Some of the women peep anxiously 
through it at the sound of footsteps ; others shrink 
away in shame. For what offence can that lonely 
child, of ten or twelve years old, be shut up here ? 



NEW YORK. 203 

Oh ! that boy ? He is the son of the prisoner we 
saw just now ; is a witness against his father ; and 
is detained here for safe-keeping, until the trial : 
that's all. 

But it is a dreadful place for the child to pass 
the long days and nights in. This is rather hard 
treatment for a young witness, is it not? What 
says our conductor ? 

" Well, it an't a very rowdy life, and that 's a 
fact!" 

Again he clinks his metal Castanet, and leads 
us leisurely away. I have a question to ask him 
as we go. 

" Pray, why do they call this place The Tombs r 

" Well, it's the cant name." 

" I know it is. Why?" 

" Some suicides happened here, when it was 
first built. I expect it come about from that." 

" I saw just now, that that man's clothes were 
scattered about the floor of his cell. Don't you 
oblige the prisoners to be orderly, and put such 
things away?" 



204 NEW YORK. 

" Where should they put 'em?" 

" Not on the ground surely. What do you say 
to hanging them up I" 

He stops, and looks round to emphasize his 
answer : 

" Why, I say that's just it. When they had 
hooks they would hang themselves, so they're taken 
out of every cell, and there 's only the marks left 
where they used to be ! " 

The prison-yard in which he pauses now, has 
been the scene of terrible performances. Into this 
narrow, grave-like place, men are brought out to 
die. The wretched creature stands beneath the 
gibbet on the ground ; the rope about his neck ; 
and when the sign is given, a weight at its other 
end comes running down, and swings him up into 
the air a corpse. 

The law requires that there be present at this 
dismal spectacle, the judge, the jury, and citizens 
to the amount of twenty-five. From the commu 
nity it is hidden. To the dissolute and bad, the 
thing remains a frightful mystery. Between the 



NEW YORK. 205 

criminal and them, the prison-wall is interposed as 
a thick gloomy veil. It is the curtain to his bed 
of death, his winding-sheet, and grave. From him 
it shuts out life, and all the motives to unrepenting 
hardihood in that last hour, which its mere sight 
and presence is often all-sufficient to sustain. 
There are no bold eyes to make him bold ; no 
ruffians to uphold a ruffian's name before. All 
beyond the pitiless stone wall, is unknown space. 

Let us go forth again into the cheerful streets. 

Once more in Broadway ! Here are the same 
ladies in bright colours, walking to and fro, in pairs 
and singly ; yonder the very same light blue para 
sol which passed and repassed the hotel-window 
twenty times while we were sitting there. We 
are going to cross here. Take care of the pigs. 
Two portly sows are trotting up behind this car 
riage, and a select party of half-a-dozen gentlemen- 
hogs have just now turned the corner. 

Here is a solitary swine, lounging homeward by 
himself. He has only one ear ; having parted with 
the other to vagrant-dogs in the course of his city 



206 NEW YORK. 

rambles. But he gets on very well without it ; and 
leads a roving, gentlemanly, vagabond kind of life, 
somewhat answering to that of our club-men at 
home. He leaves his lodgings every morning at a 
certain hour, throws himself upon the town, gets 
through his day in some manner quite satisfactory 
to himself, and regularly appears at the door of his 
own house again at night, like the mysterious 
master of Gil Bias. He is a free-and-easy, careless, 
indifferent kind of pig, having a very large 
acquaintance among other pigs of the same cha 
racter, whom he rather knows by sight than con 
versation, as he seldom troubles himself to stop and 
exchange civilities, but goes grunting down the 
kennel, turning up the news and small-talk of the 
city, in the shape of cabbage- stalks and offal, and 
bearing no tails but his own : which is a very short 
one, for his old enemies, the dogs, have been at that 
too, and have left him hardly enough to swear by. 
He is in every respect a republican pig, going 
wherever he pleases, and mingling with the best 
society, on an equal, if not superior footing, for 



NEW YORK. 207 

every one makes way when he appears, and the 
haughtiest give him the wall, if he prefer it. He 
is a great philosopher, and seldom moved, unless 
by the dogs before-mentioned. Sometimes, indeed, 
you may see his small eye twinkling on a slaugh 
tered friend, whose carcase garnishes a butcher's 
door-post, but he grunts out " Such is life : all 
flesh is pork ! " buries his nose in the mire again, 
and waddles down the gutter : comforting himself 
with the reflection that there is one snout the less 
to anticipate stray cabbage-stalks, at any rate. 

They are the city scavengers, these pigs. Ugly 
brutes they are ; having, for the most part, 
scanty, brown backs, like the lids of old horse-hair 
trunks : spotted with unwholesome black blotches. 
They have long, gaunt legs, too, and such peaked 
snouts, that if one of them could be persuaded to 
sit for his profile, nobody would recognise it for a 
pig's likeness. They are never attended upon, or 
fed, or driven, or caught, but are thrown upon their 
own resources in early life, and become preter- 
naturally knowing in consequence. Every pig 



208 NEW YORK. 

knows where he lives, much better than anybody 
could tell him. At this hour, just as evening is 
closing in, you will see them roaming towards bed 
by scores, eating their way to the last. Occasion 
ally, some youth among them who has over-eaten 
himself, or has been much worried by dogs, trots 
shrinkingly homeward, like a prodigal son : but 
this is a rare case : perfect self-possession and self- 
reliance, and immovable composure, being their 
foremost attributes. 

The streets and shops are lighted now ; and as 
the eye travels down the long thoroughfare, dotted 
with bright jets of gas, it is reminded of Oxford 
Street or Piccadilly. Here and there, a flight of 
broad stone cellar-steps appears, and a painted 
lamp directs you to the Bowling Saloon, or Ten-Pin 
alley : Ten-Pins being a game of mingled chance 
and skill, invented when the legislature passed an 
act forbidding Nine-Pins. At other downward 
flights of steps, are other lamps, marking the 
whereabouts of oyster-cellars pleasant retreats, 
say I : not only by reason of their wonderful cook- 



NEW YORK. 209 

ery of oysters, pretty nigh as large as cheese- 
plates, (or for thy dear sake, heartiest of Greek 
Professors !) but because of all kinds of eaters of 
fish, or flesh, or fowl, in these latitudes, the swal- 
lowers of oysters alone are not gregarious; but 
subduing themselves, as it were, to the nature of 
what they work in, and copying the coyness of 
the thing they eat, do sit apart in curtained boxes, 
and consort by twos, not by two hundreds. 

But how quiet the streets are ! Are there no 
itinerant bands ; no wind or stringed instruments ? 
No, not one. By day, are there no Punches, 
Fantoccinis, Dancing-dogs, Jugglers, Conjurors, 
Orchestrinas, or even Barrel-organs? No, not 
one. Yes, I remember one. One barrel-organ and 
a dancing-monkey sportive by nature, but fast 
fading into a dull, lumpish monkey, of the Utilita 
rian school. Beyond that, nothing lively ; no, not 
so much as a white mouse in a twirling cage. 

Are there no amusements 2 Yes. There is a lec 
ture-room across the way, from which that glare of 
light proceeds, and there may be evening service for 

VOL. i p 



210 NEW YORK. 

the ladies thrice a week, or oftener. For the 
young gentlemen, there is the counting-house, the 
store, the bar-room : the latter, as you may 
see through these windows, pretty full. Hark ! 
to the clicking sound of hammers breaking lumps 
of ice, and to the cool gurgling of the pounded 
bits, as, in the process of mixing, they are poured 
from glass to glass ! No amusements ? What are 
these suckers of cigars and swallowers of strong 
drinks, whose hats and legs we see in every possi 
ble variety of twist, doing, but amusing themselves ? 
What are the fifty newspapers, which those pre 
cocious urchins are bawling down the street, and 
which are kept filed within, what are they but 
amusements? Not vapid waterish amusements, 
but good strong stuff; dealing in round abuse and 
blackguard names ; pulling off the roofs of private 
houses, as the Halting Devil did in Spain ; pimping 
and pandering for all degrees of vicious taste, and 
gorging with coined lies the most voracious maw ; 
imputing to every man in public life the coarsest 
and the vilest motives ; scaring away from the 



NEW YOKK. 211 

stabbed and prostrate body-politic, every Samari 
tan of clear conscience and good deeds ; and setting 
on, with yell and whistle and the clapping of foul 
hands, the vilest vermin and worst birds of prey. 
No amusements ! 

Let us go on again ; and passing this wilderness 
of an hotel with stores about its base, like some 
continental theatre, or the London Opera House 
shorn of its colonnade, plunge into the Five Points. 
But it is needful, first, that we take as our escort 
these two heads of the police, whom you would 
know for sharp and well-trained officers if you 
met them in the Great Desert. So true it is, that 
certain pursuits, wherever carried on, will stamp 
men with the same character. These two might 
have been begotten, born, and bred, in Bow Street. 

We have seen no beggars in the streets by night 
or day ; but of other kinds of strollers, plenty. 
Poverty, wretchedness, and vice, are rife enough 
where we are going now. 

This is the place : these narrow ways, diverging 
to the right and left, and reeking everywhere with 
p 2 



212 NEW YORK. 

dirt and filth. Such lives as are led here, bear 
the same fruits here as elsewhere. The coarse 
and bloated faces at the doors, have counterparts 
at home, and all the wide world over. Debauch 
ery has made the very houses prematurely old. 
See how the rotten beams are tumbling down, and 
how the patched and broken windows seem to 
scowl dimly, like eyes that have been hurt in 
drunken frays. Many of those pigs live here. Do 
they ever wonder why their masters walk upright 
in lieu of going on all-fours ? and why they talk 
instead of grunting ? 

.So far, nearly every house is a low tavern ; and 
on the bar-room walls, are coloured prints of Wash 
ington, and Queen Victoria of England, and the 
American Eagle. Among the pigeon-holes that 
hold the bottles, are pieces of plate-glass and 
coloured paper, for there is, in some sort, a taste 
for decoration, even here. And as seamen fre 
quent these haunts, there are maritime pictures by 
the dozen : of partings between sailors and their 
lady-loves, portraits of William, of the ballad, and 



NEW YORK. 213 

his Black-Eyed Susan ; of Will Watch, the Bold 
Smuggler; of Paul Jones the Pirate, and the like : 
on which the painted eyes of Queen Victoria, and 
of Washington to boot, rest in as strange com 
panionship, as on most of the scenes that are 
enacted in their wondering presence. 

What place is this, to which the squalid street 
conducts us ? A kind of square of leprous houses, 
some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden 
stairs without. What lies beyond this tottering 
flight of steps, that creak beneath our tread ? a 
miserable room, lighted by one dim candle, and 
destitute of all comfort, save that which may be 
hidden in a wretched bed. Beside it, sits a man : 
his elbows on his knees : his forehead hidden in his 
hands. " What ails that man ! '" asks the fore 
most officer. " Fever," he sullenly replies, with 
out looking up. Conceive the fancies of a fevered 
brain, in such a place as this ! 

Ascend these pitch-dark stairs, heedful of a false 
footing on the trembling boards, and grope your 
way with me into this wolfish den, where neither 



214 NEW YORK. 

ray of light nor breath of air, appears to come. A 
negro lad, startled from his sleep by the officer's 
voice he knows it well but comforted by his 
assurance that he has not come on business, offi 
ciously bestirs himself to light a candle. The 
match flickers for a moment, and shows great 
mounds of dusky rags upon the ground ; then dies 
away and leaves a denser darkness than before, if 
there can be degrees in such extremes. He stum 
bles down the stairs and presently comes back, 
shading a flaring taper with his hand. Then the 
mounds of rags are seen to be astir, and rise slowly 
up, and the floor is covered with heaps of negro 
women, waking from their sleep : their white teeth 
chattering, and their bright eyes glistening and 
winking on all sides with surprise and fear, like the 
countless repetition of .one astonished African face 
in some strange mirror. 

Mount up these other stairs with no less caution 
(there are traps and pitfalls here, for those who 
are not so well escorted as ourselves) into the 
housetop ; where the bare beams and rafters meet 



NEW YORK. 215 

over-head, and calm night looks down through the 
crevices in the roof. Open the door of one of 
these cramped hutches full of sleeping negroes. 
Pah ! They have a charcoal fire within ; there is 
a smell of singeing clothes, or flesh, so close they 
gather round the brazier ; and vapours issue forth 
that blind and suffocate. From every corner, as 
you glance about you in these dark retreats, some 
figure crawls half-awakened, as if the judgment- 
hour were near at hand, and every obscene grave 
were giving up its dead. Where dogs would howl 
to lie, women, and men, and boys slink off to sleep, 
forcing the dislodged rats to move away in quest 
of better lodgings. 

Here too are lanes and alleys, paved with mud 
knee-deep : underground chambers, where they 
dance and game ; the walls bedecked with rough 
designs of ships, and forts, and flags, and American 
Eagles out of number : ruined houses, open to the 
street, whence, through wide gaps in the walls, 
other ruins loom upon the eye, as though the 
world of vice and misery had nothing else to show: 



216 NEW YORK. 

hideous tenements which take their name from 
robbery and murder : all that is loathsome, droop 
ing, and decayed is here. 

Our leader has his hand upon the latch of 
" Almack's," and calls to us from the bottom of 
the steps ; for the assembly-room of the Five- 
Point fashionables is approached by a descent. 
Shall we go in 2 It is but a moment. 

Heyday ! the landlady of Almack's thrives ! A 
buxom fat mulatto woman, with sparkling eyes, 
whose head is daintily ornamented with Ja hand 
kerchief of many colours. Nor is the landlord much 
behind her in his finery, being attired in a smart 
blue jacket, like a ship's steward, with a thick gold 
ring upon his little finger, and round his neck a 
gleaming golden watch-guard. How glad he is to 
see us! What will we please to call s for? A 
dance ? It shall be done directly, sir: " a regular 
break-down." 

The corpulent black fiddler, and his friend 
who plays the tambourine, stamp upon the board 
ing of the small raised orchestra in which they 



NEW YOEK. 217 

sit, and play a lively measure. Five or six couple 
come upon the floor, marshalled by a lively 
young negro, who is the wit of the assembly, 
and the greatest dancer known. He never leaves 
off making queer faces, and is the delight of all 
the rest, who grin from ear to ear incessantly. 
Among the dancers are two young mulatto girls, 
with large, black, drooping eyes, and head-gear 
after the fashion of the hostess, who are as shy 
or feign to be, as though they never danced before, 
and so look down before the visitors, that their 
partners can see nothing but the long fringed lashes. 
But the dance commences. Every gentleman 
sets as long as he likes to the opposite lady, 
and the opposite lady to him, and all are so 
long about it that the sport begins to languish, 
when suddenly the lively hero dashes in to the 
rescue. Instantly the fiddler grins, and goes at 
it tooth and nail; there is new energy in the 
tambourine ; new laughter in the dancers ; new 
smiles in the landlady ; new confidence in the 
landlord ; new brightness in the very candles. 



218 NEW YORK. 

Single shuffle, double shuffle, cut and cross-cut : 
snapping his fingers, rolling his eyes, turning in 
his knees, presenting the backs of his legs in 
front s spinning about on his toes and heels 
like nothing but the man's fingers on the tam 
bourine ; dancing with two left legs, two right legs, 
two wooden legs, two wire legs, two spring legs 
all sorts of legs and no legs what is this to him ? 
And in what walk of life, or dance of life, does 
man ever get such stimulating applause as thunders 
about him, when, having danced his partner off 
her feet, and himself too, he finishes by leaping 
gloriously on the bar-counter, and calling for 
something to drink, with the chuckle of a million 
of counterfeit Jim Crows, in one inimitable sound ! 
The air, even in these distempered parts, is 
fresh after the stifling atmosphere of the houses ; 
and now, as we emerge into a broader street, it 
blows upon us with a purer breath, and the stars 
look bright again. Here are The Tombs once 
more. The city watch-house is a part of the 
building. It follows naturally on the sights 



NEW YORK. 219 

we have just left. Let us see that, and then 
to bed. 

What ! do you thrust your common offenders 
against the police discipline of the town, into such 
holes as these ? Do men and women, against whom 
no crime is proved, lie here all night in perfect 
darkness, surrounded by the noisome vapours 
which encircle that flagging lamp you light us with, 
and breathing this filthy and offensive stench ! 
Why, such indecent and disgusting dungeons as 
these cells, would bring disgrace upon the most 
despotic empire in the world ! Look at them, 
man you, who see them every night, and keep 
the keys. Do you see what they are 2 Do you 
know how drains are made below the streets, and 
wherein these human sewers differ, except in being 
always stagnant ? 

Well, he don't know. He has had five-and- 
twenty young women locked up in this very cell at 
one time, and you'd hardly realise what handsome 
faces there were among 'em. 

In God's name ! shut the door upon the wretched 



220 NEW YORK. 

creature who is in it now, and put its screen before 
a place, quite unsurpassed in all the vice, neglect, 
and devilry, of the worst old town in Europe. 

Are people really left all night, untried, in those 
black sties ? .Every night. The watch is set at 
seven in the evening. The magistrate opens his 
court at five in the morning. That is the earliest 
hour at which the first prisoner can be released ; 
and if an officer appear against him, he is not 
taken out till nine o'clock or ten. But if any one 
among them die in the interval, as one man did, 
not long ago ? Then he is half-eaten by the rats 
in an hour's time ; as that man was ; and there 
an end. 

What is this intolerable tolling of great bells, and 
crashing of wheels, and shouting in the distance ? 
A fire. And what that deep red light in the opposite 
direction ? Another fire. And what these charred 
and blackened walls we stand before ? A dwelling 
where a fire has been. It was more than hinted, 
in an official report, not long ago, that some of 
these conflagrations were not wholly accidental, 



NEW YORK. 221 

and that speculation and enterprise found a field 
of exertion, even in flames : but be this as it may, 
there was a fire last night, there are two to-night, 
and you may lay an even wager there will be at 
least one, to-morrow. So, carrying that with us 
for our comfort, let us say, Good night, and climb 
up stairs to bed. 



One day, during my stay in New York, I paid 
a visit to the different public institutions on Long 
Island. One of them is a Lunatic Asylum. The 
building is handsome; and is remarkable for a 
spacious and elegant staircase. The whole struc 
ture is not yet finished, but it is already one of 
considerable size and extent, and is capable of 
accommodating a very large number of patients. 

I cannot say that I derived much comfort from 
the inspection of this charity. The different wards 
might have been cleaner and better ordered; I 
saw nothing of that salutary system which had 
impressed me so favourably elsewhere ; and every- 



222 NEW YOHK. 

thing had a lounging, listless, madhouse air, which 
was very painful. The moping idiot, cowering down 
with long dishevelled hair ; the gibbering maniac, 
with his hideous laugh and pointed finger; the 
vacant eye, the fierce wild face, the gloomy picking 
of the hands and lips, and munching of the nails : 
there they were all, without disguise, in naked 
ugliness and horror. In the dining-room, a bare, 
dull, dreary place, with nothing for the eye to rest 
on but the empty walls, a woman was locked up 
alone. She was bent, they told me, on committing 
suicide. If anything could have strengthened her 
in her resolution, it would certainly have been the 
insupportable monotony of such an existence. 

The terrible crowd with which these halls and 
galleries were filled, so shocked me, that I abridged 
my stay within the shortest limits, and declined 
to see that portion of the building in which the 
refractory and violent were under closer restraint. 
I have no doubt that the gentleman who presided 
over this establishment at the time I write of, was 
competent to manage it, and had done all in his 



NEW YORK. 223 

power to promote its usefulness: but will it be 
believed that the miserable strife of Party feeling 
is carried even into this sad refuge of afflicted and 
degraded humanity 2 Will it be believed that the 
eyes which are to watch over and controul the 
wanderings of minds on which the most dreadful 
visitation to which our nature is exposed has fallen, 
must wear the glasses of some wretched side in 
Politics 2 Will it be believed that the governor of 
such a house as this, is appointed, and deposed, 
and changed perpetually, as Parties fluctuate and 
vary, and as their despicable weathercocks are 
blown this way or that ? A hundred times in every 
week, some new most paltry exhibition of that 
narrow-minded and injurious Party Spirit, which is 
the Simoom of America, sickening and blighting 
everything of wholesome life within its reach, was 
forced upon my notice ; but I never turned my 
back upon it with feelings of such deep disgust 
and measureless contempt, as when I crossed the 
threshold of this mad-house on Long Island. 
At a short distance from this building is another 



224 NEW YORK. 

called the Alms House, that is to say, the work 
house of New York. This is a large Institution 
also : lodging, I believe, when I was there, nearly 
a thousand poor. It was badly ventilated, and 
badly lighted ; was not too clean ; and impressed 
me, on the whole, very uncomfortably. But it 
must be remembered that New York, as a great 
emporium of commerce, and as a place of general 
resort, not only from all parts of the States, but 
from most parts of the world, has always a large 
pauper population to provide for ; and labours, 
therefore, under peculiar difficulties in this respect. 
Nor must it be forgotten that New York is a large 
town, and that in all large towns a vast amount 
of good and evil is intermixed and jumbled up 
together. 

In the same neighbourhood is the Long Island 
Farm, where young orphans are nursed and 
bred. I did not see it, but I believe it is well 
conducted ; and I can the more easily credit it, 
from knowing how mindful they usually are, in 
America, of that beautiful passage in the Litany 



NEW YORK. 225 

which remembers all sick persons and young 
children. 

I was taken to these Institutions by water, in a 
boat belonging to the Long Island Jail, and rowed 
by a crew of prisoners, who were dressed in a 
striped uniform of black and buff, in which they 
looked like faded tigers. They took me, by the 
same conveyance, to the Jail itself. 

It is an old prison, and quite a pioneer estab 
lishment, on the plan I have already described. I 
was glad to hear this, for it is unquestionably a 
very indifferent one. The most is made, however, of 
the means it possesses, and it is as well regulated 
as such a place can be. 

The women work in covered sheds, erected for 
that purpose. If I remember right, there are no 
shops for the men, but be that as it may, the 
greater part of them labour in certain stone-quar 
ries near at hand. The day being very wet indeed, 
this labour was suspended, and the prisoners were 
in their cells. Imagine these cells, some two or 
three hundred in number, and in every one a man, 

VOL. I. Q 



226 NEW YORK. 

locked up : this one at his door for air, with his 
hands thrust through the grate ; this one in bed 
(in the middle of the day, remember) ; and this 
one flung down in a heap upon the ground, with 
his head against the bars, like a wild beast. Make 
the rain pour down, outside, in torrents. Put the 
everlasting stove in the midst : hot, and suffoca 
ting, and vaporous, as a witch's cauldron. Add a 
collection of gentle odours, such as would arise 
from a thousand mildewed umbrellas, wet through, 
and a thousand buck -baskets, full of half- washed 
linen and there is the prison, as it was that day. 

The prison for the State at Sing Sing, is, on the 
other hand, a model jail. That, and Mount 
Auburn, are the largest and best examples of the 
silent system. 

In another part of the city, is the Refuge for 
the Destitute : an Institution whose object is to 
reclaim youthful offenders, male and female, black 
and white, without distinction ; to teach them use 
ful trades, apprentice them to respectable masters, 
and make them worthy members of society. Its 



NEW YORK. 227 

design, it will be seen, is similar to that at Boston ; 
and it is a no less meritorious and admirable 
establishment. A suspicion crossed my mind 
during my inspection of this noble charity, 
whether the superintendant had quite sufficient 
knowledge of the world and worldly characters ; 
and whether he did not commit a great mistake 
in treating some young girls, who were to all 
intents and purposes, by their years and their 
past lives, women, as though they were little chil 
dren ; which certainly had a ludicrous effect in my 
eyes, and, or I am much mistaken, in theirs 
also. As the Institution, however, is always under 
the vigilant examination of a body of gentlemen of 
great intelligence and experience, it cannot fail to 
be well conducted ; and whether I am right or 
wrong in this slight particular, is unimportant to 
its deserts and character, which it would be diffi 
cult to estimate too highly. 

In addition to these establishments, there are, 
in New York, excellent hospitals and schools, 
literary institutions and libraries ; an admirable 

Q2 



228 NEW YORK. 

fire department (as indeed it should be, having 
constant practice), and charities of every sort and 
kind. In the suburbs there is a spacious ceme 
tery; unfinished yet, but every day improving. 
The saddest tomb I saw there was " The Strangers 1 
Grave. Dedicated to the different hotels in this 
city." 

There are three theatres. Two of them, the 
Park and the Bowery, are large, elegant, and 
handsome buildings, and are, I grieve to write it, 
generally deserted. The third, the Olympic, is a 
tiny show-box for vaudevilles and burlesques. It 
is singularly well-conducted by Mr. Mitchell, a 
comic actor of great quiet humour and originality, 
who is well remembered and esteemed by London 
playgoers. I am happy to report of this deserv 
ing gentleman, that his benches are usually well 
filled, and that his theatre rings with merriment 
every night. I had almost forgotten a small 
summer theatre, called Niblo's, with gardens and 
open air amusements attached ; but I believe it is 
not exempt from the general depression under 



NEW YORK. 229 

which Theatrical Property, or what is humorously 
called by that name, unfortunately labours. 

The country round New York, is surpassingly 
and exquisitely picturesque. The climate, as I 
have already intimated, is somewhat of the warmest. 
What it would be, without the sea breezes which 
come from its beautiful Bay in the evening time, 
I will not throw myself or my readers into a fever 
by inquiring. 

The tone of the best society in this city, is like 
like that of Boston; here and there, it may be, with 
a greater infusion of the mercantile spirit, but 
generally polished and refined, and always most 
hospitable. The houses and tables are elegant ; 
the hours later and more rakish; and there is, 
perhaps, a greater spirit of contention in refer 
ence to appearances, and the display of wealth 
and costly living. The ladies are singularly 
beautiful. 

Before I left New York I made arrangements 
for securing a passage home in the George Wash 
ington packet ship, which was advertised to sail 



230 NEW YORK. 

in June : that being the month in which I had 
determined, if prevented by no accident in the 
course of my ramblings, to leave America. 

I never thought that going back to England, 
returning to all who are dear to me, and to pur 
suits that have insensibly grown to be a part of 
my nature, I could have felt so much sorrow as 
I endured, when I parted at last, on board this 
ship, with the friends who had accompanied me 
from this city. I never thought the name of 
any place, so far away and so lately known, could 
ever associate itself in my mind with the crowd of 
affectionate remembrances that now cluster about 
it. There are those in this city who would brighten, 
to me, the darkest winter-day that ever glimmered 
and went out in Lapland ; and before whose pre 
sence even Home grew dim, when they and I 
exchanged that painful word which mingles with 
our every thought and deed; which haunts our 
cradle-heads in infancy, and closes up the vista of 
our lives in age. 



PHILADELPHIA. 



CHAPTER THE SEVENTH. 

PHILADELPHIA, AND ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 

THE journey from New York to Philadelphia, is 
made by railroad, and two ferries ; and usually 
occupies between five and six hours. It was a 
fine evening when we were passengers in the train : 
and, watching the bright sunset from alittle window 
near the door by which we sat, my attention was 
attracted to a remarkable appearance issuing from 
the windows of the gentlemen's car immediately 
in front of us, which I supposed for some time was 
occasioned by a number of industrious persons in 
side, ripping open feather-beds, and giving the 
feathers to the wind. At length it occurred to 
me that they were only spitting, which was indeed 
the case ; though how any number of passengers 



234 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

which it was possible for that car to contain, could 
have maintained such a playful and incessant 
shower of expectoration, I am still at a loss to under 
stand : notwithstanding the experience in all sali- 
vatory phenomena which I afterwards acquired. 

I made acquaintance, on this journey, with a 
mild and modest young quaker, who opened the 
discourse by informing me, in a grave whisper, that 
his grandfather was the inventor of cold-drawn 
castor oil. I mention the circumstance here, 
thinking it probable that this is the first occasion 
on which the valuable medicine in question was 
ever used as a conversational aperient. 

We reached the city, late that night. Looking 
out of my chamber window, before going to bed, 
I saw, on the opposite side of the way, a handsome 
building of white marble, which had a mournful 
ghost-like aspect, dreary to behold. I attributed 
this to the sombre influence of the night, and on 
rising in the morning looked out again, expecting 
to see its steps and portico thronged with groups 
of people passing in and out. The door was still 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 235 

tight shut, however ; the same cold cheerless air 
prevailed ; and the building looked as if the marble 
statue of Don Guzman could alone have any 
business to transact within its gloomy walls. I 
hastened to enquire its name and purpose, and 
then my surprise vanished. It was the Tomb of 
many fortunes ; the Great Catacomb of investment; 
the memorable United States Bank. 

The stoppage of this bank, with all its ruinous 
consequences, had cast (as I was told on every side) 
a gloom on Philadelphia, under the depressing 
effect of which, it yet laboured. It certainly did 
seem rather dull and out of spirits. 

It is a handsome city, but distractingly regular. 
After walking about it for an hour or two, I 
felt that I would have given the world for a 
crooked street. The collar of my coat appeared 
to stiffen, and the brim of my hat to expand, 
beneath its quakerly influence. My hair shrunk 
into a sleek short crop, my hands folded them 
selves upon my breast of their own calm accord, 
and thoughts of taking lodgings in Mark Lane 



236 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

over against the Market Place, and of making a 
large fortune by speculations in corn, came over 
me involuntarily. 

Philadelphia is most bountifully provided with 
fresh water, which is showered and jerked about, 
and turned on, and poured off, everywhere. The 
Waterworks, which are on a height near the city, 
are no less ornamental than useful, being tastefully 
laid out as a public garden, and kept in the best 
and neatest order. The river is dammed at this 
point, and forced by its own power into certain 
high tanks or reservoirs, whence the whole city, to 
the top stories of the houses, is supplied at a very 
trifling expense. 

There are various public institutions. Among 
them a most excellent Hospital a quaker esta 
blishment, but not sectarian in the great benefits 
it confers ; a quiet, quaint old Library, named after 
Franklin ; a handsome Exchange and Post Office; 
and so forth. In connection with the quaker 
Hospital, there is a picture by West, which is 
exhibited for the benefit of the funds of the insti- 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 237 

tution. The subject, is, our Saviour healing the 
sick, and it is, perhaps, as favourable a specimen 
of the master as can be seen anywhere. Whether 
this be high or low praise, depends upon the 
reader's taste. 

In the same room, there is a very characteristic 
and life-like portrait by Mr. Sully, a distinguished 
American artist. 

My stay in Philadelphia was very short, but 
what I saw of its society, I greatly liked. Treat 
ing of its general characteristics, I should be dis 
posed to say that it is more provincial than Boston 
or New York, and that there is, afloat in the fair 
city, an assumption of taste and criticism, savour 
ing rather of those genteel discussions upon the 
same themes, in connection with Shakspeare and 
the Musical Glasses, of which we read in the Vicar 
of Wakefield. Near the city, is a most splendid 
unfinished marble structure for the Girard College, 
founded by a deceased gentleman of that name 
and of enormous wealth, which, if completed accord 
ing to the original design, will be perhaps the 



238 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

richest edifice of modern times. But the bequesb 
is involved in legal disputes, and pending them 
the work has stopped ; so that like many other 
great undertakings in America, even this is rather 
going to be done one of these days, than doing 
now. 

In the outskirts, stands a great prison, called 
the Eastern Penitentiary : conducted on a plan 
peculiar to the state of Pennsylvania. The system 
here, is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confine 
ment. I believe it, in its effects, to be cruel and 
wrong. 

In its intention, I am well convinced that it is 
kind, humane, and meant for reformation ; but I 
am persuaded that those who devised this system 
of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentle 
men who carry it into execution, do not know 
what it is that they are doing. I believe that 
very few men are capable of estimating the im 
mense amount of torture and agony which this 
dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts 
upon the sufferers ; and in guessing at it myself, 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 239 

and in reasoning from what I have seen written 
upon their faces, and what to my certain know 
ledge they feel within, I am only the more con 
vinced that there is a depth of terrible endurance 
in it which none but the sufferers themselves can 
fathom, and which no man has a right to inflict 
upon his fellow creature. I hold this slow and 
daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, 
to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the 
body : and because its ghastly signs and tokens 
are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch 
as scars upon the flesh ; because its wounds are 
not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that 
human ears can hear ; therefore I the more de 
nounce it, as a secret punishment which slumber 
ing humanity is not roused up to stay. I hesitated 
once, debating with myself, whether, if I had the 
power of saying " Yes "or " No," I would allow 
it to be tried in certain cases, where the terms of 
imprisonment were short ; but now, I solemnly de 
clare, that with no rewards or honours could I 
walk a happy man beneath the open sky by day 



240 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

or lie me down upon my bed at night, with the 
consciousness that one human creature, for any 
length of time, no matter what, lay suffering this 
unknown punishment in his silent cell, and I the 
cause, or I consenting to it in the least degree. 

I was accompanied to this prison by two gentle 
men officially connected with its management, 
and passed the day in going from cell to cell, and 
talking with the inmates. Every facility was 
afforded me, that the utmost courtesy could sug 
gest. Nothing was concealed or hidden from my 
view, and every piece of information that I sought, 
was openly and frankly given. The perfect order 
of the building cannot be praised too highly, and 
of the excellent motives of all who are immediately 
concerned in the administration of the system, 
there can be no kind of question. 

Between the body of the prison and the outer 
wall, there is a spacious garden. Entering it, by a 
wicket in the massive gate, we pursued the path 
before us to its other termination, and passed into 
a large chamber, from which seven long passages 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 241 

radiate. On either side of each, is a long, long row 
of low cell doors, with a certain number over every 
one. Above, a gallery of cells like those below, 
except that they have no narrow yard attached 
(as those in the ground tier have), and are some 
what smaller. The possession of two of these, is 
supposed to compensate for the absence of so 
much air and exercise as can be had in the dull 
strip attached to each of the others, in an hour's 
time every day ; and therefore every prisoner in 
this upper story has two cells, adjoining and com 
municating with, each other. 

Standing at the central point, and looking down 
these dreary passages, the dull repose and quiet 
that prevails, is awful. Occasionally, there is a 
drowsy sound from some lone weaver's shuttle, or 
shoemaker's last, but it is stifled by the thick 
walls and heavy dungeon-door, and only serves to 
make the general stillness more profound. Over 
the head and face of every prisoner who comes 
into this melancholy house, a black hood is drawn ; 
and in this dark shroud, an emblem of the curtain 

VOL. I. B 



242 .PHILADELPHIA, AND 

dropped between him and the living world, he is 
led to the cell from which he never again comes 
forth, until his whole term of imprisonment has 
expired. He never hears of wife or children ; 
home or friends; the life or death of any single 
creature. He sees the prison-officers, but with 
that exception he never looks upon a human coun 
tenance, or hears a human voice. He is a man 
buried alive ; to be dug out in the slow round of 
years ; and in the mean time dead to everything 
but torturing anxieties and horrible despair. 

His name, and crime, and term of suffering, arc 
unknown, even to the officer who delivers him his 
daily food. There is a number over his cell-door, 
and in a book of which the governor of the prison 
has one copy, and the moral instructor another : 
this is the index to his history. Beyond these pages 
the prison has no record of his existence : and 
though he live to be in the same cell ten weary years, 
he has no means of knowing, down to the very last 
hour, in what part of the building it is situated ; 
what kind of men there are about him ; whether 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 243 

in the long winter nights there are living people 
near, or he is in some lonely corner of the great 
jail, with walls, and passages, and iron doors 
between him and the nearest sharer in its solitary 
horrors. 

Every cell has double doors : the outer one of 
sturdy oak, the other of grated iron, wherein there 
is a trap through which his food is handed. He 
has a Bible, and a slate and pencil, and, under 
certain restrictions, has sometimes other books, 
provided for the purpose, and pen and ink and 
paper. His razor, plate, and can, and basin, hang 
upon the wall, or shine upon the little shelf. 
Fresh water is laid on in every cell, and he can 
draw it at his pleasure. During the day, his bed 
stead turns up against the wall, and leaves more 
space for him to work in. His loom, or bench, 
or wheel, is there ; and there he labours, sleeps 
and wakes, and counts the seasons as they change, 
and grows old. 

The first man I saw, was seated at his loom, at 
work. He had been there, six years, and was to 

R 2 



244 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

remain, I think, three more. He had been con 
victed as a receiver of stolen goods, but even after 
this long imprisonment, denied his guilt, and said 
he had been hardly dealt by. It was his second 
offence. 

He stopped his work when we went in, took off 
his spectacles, and answered freely to everything 
that was said to him, but always with a strange 
kind of pause first, and in a low, thoughtful voice. 
He wore a paper hat of his own making, and was 
pleased to have it noticed and commended. He 
had very ingeniously manufactured a sort of Dutch 
clock from some disregarded odds and ends ; and 
his vinegar-bottle served for the pendulum. Seeing 
me interested in this contrivance, he looked up at 
it with a great deal of pride, and said that he had 
been thinking of improving it, and that he hoped 
the hammer and a little piece of broken glass be 
side it " would play music before long." He had 
extracted some colours from the yarn with which 
he worked, and painted a few poor figures on the 
wall. One, of a female, over the door, he called 
" The Lady of the Lake." 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 245 

He smiled as I looked at these contrivances to 
wile away the time ; but when I looked from them 
to him, I saw that his lip trembled, and could 
have counted the beating of his heart. I forget 
how it came about, but some allusion was made 
to his having a wife. He shook his head at the 
word, turned aside, and covered his face with his 
hands. 

" But you are resigned now ! " said one of 
the gentlemen after a short pause, during which 
he had resumed his former manner. He an 
swered with a sigh that seemed quite reckless 
in its hopelessness, " Oh yes, oh yes ! I am re 
signed to it." " And are a better man, you 
think ? " " Well, I hope so : I'm sure I hope I 
may be." " And time goes pretty quickly ! " 
" Time is very long, gentlemen, within these four 
walls ! " 

He gazed about him Heaven only knows how 
wearily ! as he said these words ; and in the act 
of doing so, fell into a strange stare as if he had 
forgotten something. A moment afterwards he 



246 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

sighed heavily, put on his spectacles, and went 
about his work again. 

In another cell, there was a German, sentenced 
to five years 1 imprisonment for larceny, two of 
which had just expired. With colours procured 
in the same manner, he had painted every inch of 
the walls and ceiling quite beautifully. He had 
laid out the few feet of ground, behind, with ex 
quisite neatness, and had made a little bed in the 
centre, that looked by the bye like a grave. The 
taste and ingenuity he had displayed in everything 
were most extraordinary; and yet a more dejected, 
heart-broken, wretched creature, it would be diffi 
cult to imagine. I never saw such a picture of 
forlorn affliction and distress of mind. My heart 
bled for him ; and when the tears ran down his 
cheeks, and he took one of the visitors aside, to 
ask, with his trembling hands nervously clutching 
at his coat to detain him, whether there was no 
hope of his dismal sentence being commuted, the 
spectacle was really too painful to witness. I never 
saw or heard of any kind of misery that im- 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 247 

pressed me more than the wretchedness of this 
man. 

In a third cell, was a tali strong black, a burglar, 
working at his proper trade of making screws and 
the like. His time was nearly out. He was not 
only a very dexterous thief, but was notorious for 
his boldness and hardihood, and for the number 
of his previous convictions. He entertained us 
with a long account of his achievements, which he 
narrated with such infinite relish, that he actually 
seemed to lick his lips as he told us racy anecdotes of 
stolen plate, and of old ladies whom he had watched 
as they sat at windows in silver spectacles (he had 
plainly had an eye to their metal even from the 
other side of the street), and had afterwards 
robbed. This fellow, upon the slightest encour 
agement, would have mingled with his professional 
recollections the most detestable cant ; but I am 
very much mistaken if he could have surpassed the 
unmitigated hypocrisy with which he declared that 
he blessed the day on which he came into that 



248 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

prison, and that he never would commit another 
robbery as long as he lived. 

There was one man who was allowed, as an 
indulgence, to keep rabbits. His room having 
rather a close smell in consequence, they called to 
him at the door to come out into the passage. He 
complied of course, and stood shading his haggard 
face in the unwonted sunlight of the great window, 
looking as wan and unearthly as if he had been 
summoned from the grave. He had a white rabbit 
in his breast ; and when the little creature, getting 
down upon the ground, stole back into the cell, 
and he, being dismissed, crept timidly after it, I 
thought it would have been very hard to say in 
what respect the man was the nobler animal of the 
two. 

There was an English thief, who had been there 
but a few days out of seven years : a villanous, 
low-browed, thin-lipped fellow, with a white face ; 
who had as yet no relish for visitors, and who, but 
for the additional penalty, would have gladly 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 249 

stabbed me with his shoemaker's knife. There 
was another German who had entered the jail but 
yesterday, and who started from his bed when we 
looked in, and pleaded, in is broken English, very 
hard for work. There was a poet, who after doing 
two days' work in every four-and-twenty hours* 
one for himself and one for the prison, wrote 
verses about ships (he was by trade a mariner), 
and <{ the maddening wine-cup," and his friends at 
home. There were very many of them. Some 
reddened at the sight of visitors, and some turned 
very pale. Some two or three had prisoner nurses 
with them, for they were very sick ; and one, a 
fat old negro whose leg had been taken off within 
the jail, had for his attendant a classical scholar 
and an accomplished surgeon, himself a prisoner 
likewise. Sitting upon the stairs, engaged in some 
slight work, was a pretty coloured boy. " Is there 
no refuge for young criminals in Philadelphia, 
then?" said I. "Yes, but only for white chil 
dren." Noble aristocracy in crime ! 

There was a sailor who had been there upwards 



250 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

of eleven years, and who in a few months'* time 
would be free. Eleven years of solitary confine 
ment ! 

" I am very glad to hear your time is nearly 
out." What does he say ? Nothing. Why does 
he stare at his hands, and pick the flesh upon his 
fingers, and raise his eyes for an instant, every 
now and then, to those bare walls which have 
seen his head turn grey ? It is a way he has 
sometimes. 

Does he never look men in the face, and does he 
always pluck at those hands of his, as though he 
were bent on parting skin and bone ? It is his 
humour : nothing more. 

It is his humour too, to say that he does not look 
forward to going out ; that he is not glad the time 
is drawing near ; that he did look forward to it 
once, but that was very long ago ; that he has lost 
all care for everything. It is his humour to be a 
helpless, crushed, and broken man. And, Heaven 
be his witness that he has his humour thoroughly 
gratified ! 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 251 

There were three young women in adjoining 
cells, all convicted at the same time of a conspiracy 
to rob their prosecutor. In the silence and soli 
tude of their lives, they had grown to be quite 
beautiful. Their looks were very sad, and might 
have moved the sternest visitor to tears, but not 
to that kind of sorrow which the contemplation of 
the men, awakens. One was a young girl ; not 
twenty, as I recollect ; whose snow-white room 
was hung with the work of some former prisoner, 
and upon whose downcast face the sun in all its 
splendour shone down through the high chink in 
the wall, where one narrow strip of bright blue 
sky was visible. She was very penitent and quiet ; 
had come to be resigned, she said (and I believe 
her) ; and had a mind at peace. " In a word, you 
are happy here?" said one of my companions. 
She struggled she did struggle very hard to 
answer, Yes: but raising her eyes, and meeting 
that glimpse of freedom over-head, she burst into 
tears, and said, " She tried to be ; she uttered no 
complaint ; but it was natural that she should 



252 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

sometimes long to go out of that one cell : she could 
not help that" she sobbed, poor thing ! 

I went from cell to cell that day ; and every 
face I saw, or word I heard, or incident I noted, 
is present to my mind in all its painfulness. But 
let me pass them by, for one, more pleasant, glance 
of a prison on the same plan which I afterwards 
saw at Pittsburgh. 

When I had gone over that, in the same man 
ner, I asked the governor if he had any person in 
his charge who was shortly going out. He had 
one, he said, whose time was up next day ; but he 
had only been a prisoner two years. 

Two years ! I looked back through two years 
in my own life out of jail, prosperous, happy, sur 
rounded by blessings, comforts, and good fortune 
and thought how wide a gap it was, and how 
long those two years passed in solitary captivity 
would have been. I have the face of this man, 
who was going to be released next day, before me 
now. It is almost more memorable in its happi 
ness than the other faces in their misery. How 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 253 

easy and how natural it was for him to say that 
the system was a good one ; and that the time 
went "pretty quick considering;" and that 
when a man once felt he had offended the law, 
and must satisfy it, " he got along, somehow :' 
and so forth ! 

" What did he call you back to say to you, in 
that strange flutter \ " I asked of my conductor, 
when he had locked the door and joined me in the 
passage. 

" Oh ! That he was afraid the soles of his 
boots were not fit for walking, as they were a 
good deal worn when he came in; and that 
he would thank me very much to have them 
mended, ready." 

Those boots had been taken off his feet, and 
put away with the rest of his clothes, two years 
before ! 

I took that opportunity of inquiring how they 
conducted themselves immediately before going 
out; adding that I presumed they trembled very 
much. 



254 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

" Well, it's not so much a trembling," was the 
answer " though they do quiver as a complete 
derangement of the nervous system. They can't 
sign their names to the book ; sometimes can't even 
hold the pen ; look about 'em without appearing 
to know why, or where they are ; and sometimes 
get up and sit down again, twenty times in a 
minute. This is when they're in the office, where 
they are taken with the hood on, as they were 
brought in. When they get outside the gate, they 
stop, and look first one way and then the other : 
not knowing which to take. Sometimes they 
stagger as if they were drunk, and sometimes are 
forced to lean against the fence, they're so bad : 
but they clear off in course of time." 

As I walked among these solitary cells, and 
looked at the faces of the men within them, I tried 
to picture to myself the thoughts and feelings 
natural to their condition. I imagined the hood 
just taken off, and the scene of their captivity dis 
closed to them in all its dismal monotony. 

At first, the man is stunned. His confinement 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 255 

is a hideous vision ; and his old life a reality. He 
throws himself upon his bed, and lies there aban 
doned to despair. By degrees the insupportable 
solitude and barrenness of the place rouses him 
from this stupor, and when the trap in his grated 
door is opened, he humbly begs and prays for 
work. "Give me some work to do, or I shall go 
raving mad ! " 

He has it ; and by fits and starts applies him 
self to labour ; but every now and then there comes 
upon him a burning sense of the years that must 
be wasted in that stone coffin, and an agony so 
piercing in the recollection of those who are hidden 
from his view and knowledge, that he starts from 
his seat, and striding up and down the narrow 
room with both hands clasped on his uplifted head, 
hears spirits tempting him to beat his brains out 
on the wall. 

Again he falls upon his bed, and lies there, 
moaning. Suddenly he starts up, wondering 
whether any other man is near ; whether there is 
another cell like that on either side of him : and 
listens keenly. 



256 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

There is no sound, but other prisoners may be 
near for all that. He remembers to have heard 
once, when he little thought of coming here him- 

O O 

self, that the cells were so constructed that the 
prisoners could not hear each other, though the 
officers could hear them. Where is the nearest 
man upon the right, or on the left ? or is there 
one in both directions I Where is he sitting now 
with his face to the light ? or is he walking to 
and fro I How is he dressed I Has he been here 
long ? Is he much worn away ? Is he very white 
and spectre-like ? Does he think of his neighbour 
too? 

Scarcely venturing to breathe, and listening 
while he thinks, he conjures up a figure with its 
back towards him, and imagines it moving about 
in this next cell. He has no idea of the face, but 
he is certain of the dark form of a stooping man. 
In the cell upon the other side, he puts another 
figure, whose face is hidden from him also. Day 
after day, and often when he wakes up in the 
middle of the night, he thinks of these two men, 



ITS SOLITAKY PRISON. 257 

until he is almost distracted. He never changes 
them. There they are always as he first imagined 
them an old man on the right ; a younger man 
upon the left whose hidden features torture him 
to death, and have a mystery that makes him 
tremble. 

The weary days pass on with solemn pace, like 
mourners at a funeral ; and slowly he begins to 
feel that the white walls of the cell have some 
thing dreadful in them : that their colour is 
horrible : that their smooth surface chills his blood : 
that there is one hateful corner which torments 
him. Every morning when he wakes, he hides his 
head beneath the coverlet, and shudders to see the 
ghastly ceiling looking down upon him. The 
blessed light of day itself peeps in, an ugly phan 
tom face, through the unchangeable crevice which 
is his prison window. 

By slow but sure degrees, the terrors of that 
hateful corner swell until they beset him at all 
times ; invade his rest, make his dreams hideous, 
and his nights dreadful. At first, he took a strange 

VOL. I. S 



258 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

dislike to it : feeling as though it gave birth in his 
brain to something of corresponding shape, which 
ought not to be there, and racked his head with 
pains. Then he began to fear it, then to dream 
of it, and of men whispering its name and point 
ing to it. Then he could not bear to look at it, 
nor yet to turn his back upon it. Now, it is every 
night the lurking-place of a ghost : a shadow : 
a silent something, horrible to see, but whether 
bird, or beast, or muffled human shape, he cannot 
tell. 

When he is in his cell by day, he fears the little 
yard, without. When he is in the yard, he dreads 
to re-enter the cell. When night .comes, there 
stands the phantom in the corner. If he have the 
courage to stand in its place, and drive it out (he 
had once : being desperate), it broods upon his bed. 
In the twilight, and always at the same hour, a 
voice calls to him by name ; as the darkness thick 
ens, his Loom begins to live ; and even that, his 
comfort, is a hideous figure, watching him till day 
break. 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 259 

Again, oy slow degrees, these horrible fancies 
depart from him one by one : returning sometimes, 
unexpectedly, but at longer intervals, and in less 
alarming shapes. He has talked upon religious 
matters with the gentleman who visits him, and 
has read his Bible, and has written a prayer upon 
his slate, and hung it up, as a kind of protection, 
and an assurance of Heavenly companionship. He 
dreams now, sometimes, of his children or his wife, 
but is sure that they are dead or have deserted 
him. He is easily moved to tears ; is gentle, sub 
missive, and broken-spirited. Occasionally, the old 
agony comes back : a very little thing will revive 
it ; even a familiar sound, or the scent of summer 
flowers in the air ; but it does not last long, now : 
for the world without, has come to be the vision, 
and this solitary life, the sad reality. 

If his term of imprisonment be short I mean 
comparatively, for short it cannot be the last half 
year is almost worse than all ; for then he thinks 
the prison will take fire and he be burnt in the 
ruins, or that he is doomed to die within the walls, 

s2 



260 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

or that he will be detained on some false charge 
and sentenced for another term : or that some 
thing, no matter what, must happen to prevent his 
going at large. And this is natural, and impossi 
ble to be reasoned against, because, after his long 
separation from human life, and his great suffer 
ing, any event will appear to him more probable 
in the contemplation, than the being restored to 
liberty and his fellow-creatures. 

If his period of confinement have been very long, 
the prospect of release, bewilders and confuses him. 
His broken heart may nutter for a moment, when 
he thinks of the world outside, and what it might 
have been to him in all those lonely years, but that 
is all. The cell-door has been closed too long on 
all its hopes and cares. Better to have hanged 
him in the beginning than bring him to this pass, 
and send him forth to mingle with his kind, who 
are his kind no more. 

On the haggard face of every man among these 
prisoners, the same expression sat. I know not 
what to liken it to. It had something of that 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 261 

strained attention which we see upon the faces of 
the blind and deaf, mingled with a kind of horror, 
as though they had all been secretly terrified. 
In every little chamber that I entered, and at 
every grate through which I looked, I seemed to 
see the same appalling countenance. It lives in 
my memory, with the fascination of a remarkable 
picture. Parade before my eyes, a hundred men, 
with one among them newly released from this 
solitary suffering, and I would point him out. 

The faces of the women, as I have said, it 
humanizes and refines. Whether this be, because 
of their better nature, which is elicited in solitude, 
or because of their being gentler creatures, of 
greater patience and longer suffering, I do not 
know ; but so it is. That the punishment is 
nevertheless, to my thinking, fully as cruel and as 
wrong in their case, as in that of the men, I need 
scarcely add. 

My firm conviction is, that independent of the 
mental anguish it occasions an anguish so acute 
and so tremendous, that all imagination of it must 



262 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

fall far short of the reality it wears the mind 
into a morbid state, which renders it unfit for the 
rough contact and busy action of the world. It is 
my fixed opinion that those who have undergone 
this punishment, MUST pass into society again 
morally unhealthy and diseased. There are many 
instances on record, of men who have chosen, or 
have been condemned, to lives of perfect solitude, 
but I scarcely remember one, even among sages of 
strong and vigorous intellect, where its effect has 
not become apparent, in some disordered train of 
thought, or some gloomy hallucination. What 
monstrous phantoms, bred of despondency and 
doubt, and born and reared in solitude, have 
stalked upon the earth, making creation ugly, and 
darkening the face of Heaven ! 

Suicides are rare among these prisoners: are 
almost, indeed, unknown. But no argument in 
favour of the system, can reasonably be deduced 
from this circumstance, although it is very often 
urged. All men'who have made diseases of the 
mind, their study, know perfectly well that such 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 263 

extreme depression and despair as will change the 
whole character, and beat down all its powers of 
elasticity and self-resistance, may be at work within 
a man, and yet stop short of self-destruction. 
This is a common case. 

That it makes the senses dull, and by degrees 
impairs the bodily faculties, I am quite sure. 
I remarked to those who were with me in this 
very establishment at Philadelphia, that the crimi 
nals who had been there long, were deaf. They, 
who were in the habit of seeing these men con 
stantly, were perfectly amazed at the idea, which 
they regarded as groundless and fanciful. And 
yet the very first prisoner to whom they ap 
pealed one of their own selection confirmed 
my impression (which was unknown to him) 
instantly, and said, with a genuine air it was im 
possible to doubt, that he couldn't think how 
it happened, but he was growing very dull of 
hearing. 

That it is a singularly unequal punishment, and 
affects the worst man least, there is no doubt. In 



264 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

its superior efficiency as a means of reformation, 
compared with that other code of regulations 
which allows the prisoners to work in company 
without communicating together, I have not the 
smallest faith. All the instances of reformation 
that were mentioned to me, were of a kind that 
might have been and I have no doubt whatever, 
in my own mind, would have been equally well 
brought about by the Silent System. With regard 
to such men as the negro burglar and the English 
thief, even the most enthusiastic have scarcely 
any hope of their conversion. 

It seems to me that the objection that nothing 
wholesome or good has ever had its growth in such 
unnatural solitude, and that even a dog or any of 
the more intelligent among beasts, would pine, and 
mope, and rust away, beneath its influence, would 
be in itself a sufficient argument against this 
system. But when we recollect, in addition, how 
very cruel and severe it is, and that a solitary life 
is always liable to peculiar and distinct objections 
of a most deplorable nature, which have arisen here; 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 265 

and call to mind, moreover, that the choice is not 
between this system, and a bad or ill-considered 
one, but between it and another which has worked 
well, and is, in its whole design and practice, 
excellent; there is surely more than sufficient 
reason for abandoning a mode of punishment at 
tended by so little hope or promise, and fraught, 
beyond dispute, with such a host of evils. 

As a relief to its contemplation, I will close this 
chapter with a curious story, arising out of the 
same theme, which was related to me, on the 
occasion of this visit, by some of the gentlemen 
concerned. 

At one of the periodical meetings of the inspec 
tors of this prison, a working man of Philadelphia 
presented himself before the Board, and earnestly 
requested to be placed in solitary confinement. 
On being asked what motive could possibly prompt 
him to make this strange demand, he answered 
that he had an irresistible propensity to get 
drunk ; that he was constantly indulging it, to his 
great misery and ruin ; that he had no power of 



266 PHILADELPHIA, AND 

resistance ; that he wished to be put beyond the 
reach of temptation ; and that he could think of 
no better way than this. It was pointed out to 
him, in reply, that the prison was for criminals 
who had been tried and sentenced by the law, and 
could not be made available for any such fanciful 
purposes ; he was exhorted to abstain from intoxi 
cating drinks, as he surely might if he would ; and 
received other very good advice, with which he 
retired, exceedingly dissatisfied with the result of 
his application. 

He came again, and again, and again, and was 
so very earnest and importunate, that at last they 
took counsel together, and said, " He will certainly 
qualify himself for admission, if we reject him any 
more. Let us shut him up. He will soon be glad 
to go away, and then we shall get rid of him. 1 ' 
So they made him sign a statement which would 
prevent his ever sustaining an action for false im 
prisonment, to the effect that his incarceration was 
voluntary, and of his own seeking ; they requested 
him to take notice that the officer in attendance 



ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 267 

had orders to release him at any hour of the day 
or night, when he might knock upon his door for 
that purpose; but desired him to understand, 
that once going out, he would not be admitted 
any more. These conditions agreed upon, and he 
still remaining in the same mind, he was conducted 
to the prison, and shut up in one of the cells. 

In this cell, the man, who had not the firmness 
to leave a glass of liquor standing untasted on a 
table before him in this cell, in solitary confine 
ment, and working every day at his trade of shoe- 
making, this man remained nearly two years. 
His health beginning to fail at the expiration of 
that time, the surgeon recommended that he should 
work occasionally in the garden ; and as he liked 
the notion very much, he went about this new 
occupation with great cheerfulness. 

He was digging here, one summer day, very in 
dustriously, when the wicket in the outer gate 
chanced to be left open : showing, beyond, the well- 
remembered dusty road and sun-burnt fields. The 
way was as free to him as to any man living, but 



268 PHILADELPHIA, AND ITS SOLITARY PRISON. 

he no sooner raised his head and caught sight of 
it, all shining in the light, than, with the involun 
tary instinct of a prisoner, he cast away his spade, 
scampered off as fast as his legs would carry him, 
and never once looked back. 



" 

I 






WASHINGTON. 



CHAPTER THE EIGHTH. 

WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. AND THE 
PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 

WE left Philadelphia by steamboat, at six 
o'clock one very cold morning, and turned our 
faces towards Washington. 

In the course of this day's journey, as on 
subsequent occasions, we encountered some Eng 
lishmen (small farmers perhaps, or country pub 
licans at home) who were settled in America, 
and were travelling on their own affairs. Of all 
grades and kinds of men that jostle one in the 
public conveyances of the States, these are often 
the most intolerable and the most insufferable 
companions. United to every disagreeable cha 
racteristic that the worst kind of American tra- 



272 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

vellers possess, these countrymen of ours display 
an amount of insolent conceit and cool assumption 
of superiority, quite monstrous to behold. In the 
coarse familiarity of their approach, and the 
effrontery of their inquisitiveness (which they are 
in great haste to assert, as if they panted to revenge 
themselves upon the decent old restraints of 
home) they surpass any native specimens that came 
within my range of observation : and I often grew 
so patriotic when I saw and heard them, that I 
would cheerfully have submitted to a reasonable 
fine, if I could have given any other country in the 
whole world, the honour of claiming them for its 
children. 

As Washington may be called the head quar 
ters of tobacco-tinctured saliva, the time is come 
when I must confess, without any disguise, that the 
prevalence of those two odious practices of chewing 
and expectorating began about this time to be 
anything but agreeable, and soon became most 
offensive and sickening. In all the public places 
of America, this filthy custom is recognised. In 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 273 

the courts of law, the judge has his spittoon, the 
crier his, the witness his, and the prisoner his ; 
while the jurymen and spectators are provided for, 
as so many men who in the course of nature must 
desire to spit incessantly. In the hospitals, the 
students of medicine are requested, by notices 
upon the wall, to eject their tobacco juice into the 
boxes provided for that purpose, and not to dis 
colour the stairs. In public buildings, visitors are 
implored, through the same agency, to squirt the 
essence of their quids, or " plugs," as I have heard 
them called by gentlemen learned in this kind of 
sweetmeat, into the national spittoons, and not 
about the bases of the marble columns. But in 
some parts, this custom is inseparably mixed up 
with every meal and morning call, and with all the 
transactions of social life. The stranger, who fol 
lows in the track I took myself, will find it in its 
full bloom and glory, luxuriant in all its alarming 
recklessness, at Washington. And let him not 
persuade himself (as I once did, to my shame), that 
previous tourists have exaggerated its extent. The 



VOL. I. 



274 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

thing itself is an exaggeration of nastiness, which 
cannot be outdone. 

On board this steamboat, there were two young 
gentlemen, with shirt-collars reversed as usual, and 
armed with very big walking-sticks ; who planted 
two seats in the middle of the deck, at a distance 
of some four paces apart ; took out their tobacco- 
boxes ; and sat down opposite each other, to 
chew. In less than a quarter of an hour's time, 
these hopeful youths had shed about them on the 
clean boards, a copious shower of yellow rain ; 
clearing, by that means, a kind of magic circle, 
within whose limits no intruders dared to come, 
and which they never failed to refresh and re- 
refresh before a spot was dry. This being before 
breakfast, rather disposed me, I confess, to nausea ; 
but looking attentively at one of the expectoraters, 
I plainly saw that he was young in chewing, and 
felt inwardly uneasy, himself. A glow of delight 
came over me at this discovery ; and as I marked 
his face turn paler and paler, and saw the ball of 
tobacco in his left cheek., quiver with his suppressed 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 275 

agony, while yet he spat, and chewed, and spat 
again, in emulation of his older friend, I could 
have fallen on his neck and implored him to go on 
for hours. 

We all sat down to a comfortable breakfast in 
the cabin below, where there was no more hurry 
or confusion than at such a meal in England, and 
where there was certainly greater politeness exhi 
bited than at most of our stage-coach banquets. 
At about nine o'clock we arrived at the railroad 
station, and went on by the cars. At noon we 
turned out again, to cross a wide river in another 
steamboat ; landed at a continuation of the rail 
road on the opposite shore ; and went on by other 
cars ; in which, in the course of the next hour or so, 
we crossed, by wooden bridges, each a mile in length, 
two creeks, called respectively Great and Little 
Gunpowder. The water in both was blackened 
with flights of canvas-backed ducks, which are 
most delicious eating, and abound hereabouts at 
that season of the year. 

These bridges are of wood, have no parapet, 

T2 



276 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE 

and are only just wide enough for the passage of 
the trains ; which, in the event of the smallest 
accident, would inevitably be plunged into the river. 
They are startling contrivances, and are most 
agreeable when passed. 

We stopped to dine at Baltimore, and being 
now in Maryland, were waited on, for the first 
time, by slaves. The sensation of exacting any 
service from human creatures who are bought and 
sold, and being, for the time, a party as it were 
to their condition, is not an enviable one. The 
institution exists, perhaps, in its least repulsive 
and most mitigated form in such a town as this ; 
but it is slavery"; and though I was, with respect to 
it, an innocent man, its presence filled me with a 
sense of shame and self-reproach. 

After dinner, we went down to the railroad again, 
:and took our seats in the cars for Washington. 
Being rather early, those men and boys who hap 
pened to have nothing particular to do, and were 
curious in foreigners, came (according to custom) 
round the carriage in which I sat ; let down all 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 277 

the windows ; thrust in their heads and shoulders ; 
hooked themselves on conveniently, by their elbows; 
and fell to comparing notes on the subject of my 
personal appearance, with as much indifference as 
if I were a stuffed figure. I never gained so much 
uncompromising information with reference to my 
own nose and eyes, the various impressions wrought 
by my mouth and chin on different minds, and how 
my head looks when it is viewed from behind, a& 
on these occasions. Some gentlemen were only 
satisfied by exercising their sense of touch ; and 
the boys (who are surprisingly precocious in Ame 
rica) were seldom satisfied, even by that, but would 
return to the charge over and over again. Many 
a budding president has walked into my room with 
his cap on his head and his hands in his pockets, 
and stared at me for two whole hours : occasion 
ally refreshing himself with a tweak at his nose, or 
a draught from the water- jug ; or by walking to 
the windows and inviting other boys in the street 
below, to come up and do likewise : crying, 
" Here he is ! " {< Come on ! " " Bring all 



278 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

your brothers ! " with other hospitable entreaties 
of that nature. 

We reached Washington at about half-past six 
that evening, and had upon the way a beautiful 
view of the Capitol, which is a fine building of the 
Corinthian order, placed upon a noble and com 
manding eminence. Arrived at the hotel, I saw no 
more of the place that night ; being very tired, and 
glad to get to bed. 

Breakfast over next morning, I walk about the 
streets for an hour or two, and, coming home, 
throw up the window in the front and back, and 
look out. Here is Washington, fresh in my mind 
and under my eye. 

Take the worst parts of the City Road and Pen- 
tonville, preserving all their oddities, but especially 
the small shops and dwellings, occupied there (but 
not in Washington) by furniture-brokers, keepers 
of poor eating-houses, and fanciers of birds. Burn 
the whole down ; build it up again in wood and 
plaster ; widen it a little ; throw in part of 
St. John's Wood ; put green blinds outside all the 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 279 

private houses, with a red curtain and a white one 
in every window ; plough up all the roads ; plant 
a great deal of coarse turf in every place where it 
ought not to be ; erect three handsome buildings 
in stone and marble, anywhere, but the more 
entirely out of everybody's way the better; call 
one the Post Office, one the Patent Office, and 
one the Treasury ; make it scorching hot in the 
morning, and freezing cold in the afternoon, with 
an occasional tornado of wind and dust ; leave a 
brick-field without the bricks, in all central places 
where a street may naturally be expected : and 
that's Washington. 

The hotel in which we live, is a long row of 
small houses fronting on the street, and opening 
at the back upon a common yard, in which hangs 
a great triangle. Whenever a servant is wanted, 
somebody beats on this triangle from one stroke up 
to seven, according to the number of the house in 
which his presence is required : and as all the 
servants are always being wanted, and none of 
them ever come, this enlivening engine is in full 



280 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

performance the whole day through. Clothes are 
drying in this same yard; female slaves, with 
cotton handkerchiefs twisted round their heads, 
are running to and fro on the hotel business; 
black waiters cross and recross with dishes in their 
hands ; two great dogs are playing upon a mound 
of loose bricks in the centre of the little square ; a 
pig is turning up his stomach to the sun, and 
grunting "that's comfortable !"; and neither the 
men, nor the women, nor the dogs, nor the pig, 
nor any created creature, takes the smallest notice 
of the triangle, which is tingling madly all the 
time. 

I walk to the front window, and look across the 
road upon a long, straggling row of houses, one 
story high, terminating, nearly opposite, but a little 
to the left, in a melancholy piece of waste ground 
with frowzy grass, which looks like a small piece 
of country that has taken to drinking, and has 
quite lost itself. Standing anyhow and all wrong, 
upon this open space, like something meteoric that 
has fallen down from the moon, is an odd, lop- 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 281 

sided, one-eyed kind of wooden building, that looks 
like a church, with a flag-staff as long as itself 
sticking out of a steeple something larger than a 
tea-chest. Under the window, is a small stand of 
coaches, whose slave-drivers are sunning themselves 
on the steps of our door, and talking idly together. 
The three most obtrusive houses near at hand, are 
the three meanest. On one a shop, which never 
has anything in the window, and never has the 
door open is painted in large characters, " THE 
CITY LUNCH." At another, which looks like the 
backway to somewhere else, but is an independent 
building in itself, oysters are procurable in every 
style. At the third, which is a very, very little 
tailor's shop, pants are fixed to order : or, in other 
words, pantaloons are made to measure. And 
that is our street in Washington. 

It is sometimes called the City of Magnificent 
Distances, but it might with greater propriety be 
termed the City of Magnificent Intentions ; for it 
is only on taking a bird's-eye view of it from the 
top of the Capitol, that one can at all comprehend 



282 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

the vast designs of its projector, an aspiring 
Frenchman. Spacious avenues, that begin in no 
thing, and lead nowhere ; streets, mile-long, that 
only want houses, roads, and inhabitants ; public 
buildings that need but a public to be complete ; 
and ornaments of. great thoroughfares, which only 
lack great thoroughfares to ornament are its 
leading features. One might fancy the season 
over, and most of the houses gone out of town for 
ever with their masters. To the admirers of cities 
it is a Barmecide Feast ; a pleasant field for the 
imagination to rove in ; a monument raised to a 
deceased project, with not even a legible inscription 
to record its departed greatness. 

Such as it is, it is likely to remain. It was ori 
ginally chosen for the seat of Government, as a 
means of averting the conflicting jealousies and 
interests of the different States ; and very pro 
bably, too, as being remote from" mobs : a con 
sideration not to be slighted, even in America. It 
has no trade or commerce of its own : having little 
or no population beyond the President and his 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 283 

establishment; the members of the legislature 
who reside there during the session ; the Govern 
ment clerks and officers employed in the various 
departments ; the keepers of the hotels and 
boarding-houses; and the tradesmen who supply 
their tables. It is very unhealthy. Few people 
would live in Washington, I take it, who were not 
obliged to reside there ; and the tides of emigra 
tion and speculation, those rapid and regardless 
currents, are little likely to flow at any time to 
wards such dull and sluggish water. 

The principal features of the Capitol, are, of 
course, the two Houses of Assembly. But there 
is, besides, in the centre of the building, a fine 
rotunda, ninety-six feet in diameter, and ninety- 
six high, whose circular wall is divided into com 
partments, ornamented by historical pictures. 
Four of these have for their subjects prominent 
events in the revolutionary struggle. They were 
painted by Colonel Trumbull, himself a member 
of Washington's staff at the time of their occur 
rence ; from which circumstance they derive a 



284? WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

peculiar interest of their own. In this same hall 
Mr. Greenough's large statue of Washington has 
been lately placed. It has great merits of course, 
but it struck me as being rather strained and 
violent for its subject. I could wish, however, to 
have seen it in a better light than it can ever be 
viewed in. where it stands. 

There is a very pleasant and commodious library 
in the Capitol ; and from a balcony in front, the 
bird's-eye view, of which I have just spoken, may 
be had, together with a beautiful prospect of the 
adjacent country. In one of the ornamented por 
tions of the building, there is a figure of Justice ; 
whereunto the Guide Book says, " the artist at 
first contemplated giving more of nudity, but he 
was warned that the public sentiment in this 
country would not admit of it, and in his caution he 
has gone, perhaps, into the opposite extreme." Poor 
Justice ! she has been made to wear much stranger 
garments in America than those she pines in, in 
the Capitol. Let us hope that she has changed 
her dress-maker since they were fashioned, and 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 285 

that the public sentiment of the country did not 
cut out the clothes she hides her lovely figure in, 
just now. 

The House of Representatives is a beautiful 
and spacious hall, of semi -circular shape, sup 
ported by handsome pillars. One part of the 
gallery is appropriated to the ladies, and there 
they sit in front rows, and come in, and go out, as 
at a play or concert. The chair is canopied, and 
raised considerably above the floor of the House ; 
and every member has an easy chair and a writ 
ing desk to himself: which is denounced by some 
people out of doors as a most unfortunate and in 
judicious arrangement, tending to long sittings 
and prosaic speeches. It is an elegant chamber 
to look at, but a singularly bad one for all purposes 
of hearing. The Senate, which is smaller, is free 
from this objection, and is exceedingly well adapted 
to the uses for which it is designed. The sittings, 
I need hardly add, take place in the day ; and the 
parliamentary forms are modelled on those of the 
old country. 



286 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

I was sometimes asked, in my progress through 
other places, whether I had not been very much 
impressed by the heads of the lawmakers at Wash 
ington meaning not their chiefs and leaders, but 
literally their individual and personal heads, whereon 
their hair grew, and whereby the phrenological 
character of each legislator was expressed: and 
I almost as often struck my questioner dumb with 
indignant consternation by answering " No, that 
I didn't remember being at all overcome." As I 
must, at whatever hazard, repeat the avowal here, 
I will follow it up by relating my impressions on 
this subject in as few words as possible. 

In the first place it may be from some imper 
fect development of my organ of veneration T 
do not remember having ever fainted away, or 
having even been moved to tears of joyful pride, 
at sight of any legislative body. I have borne the 
House of Commons like a man, and have yielded 
to no weakness, but slumber, in the House of Lords. 
I have seen elections for borough and county, and 
have never been impelled (no matter which party 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 287 

won) to damage my hat by throwing it up into 
the air in triumph, or to crack my voice by shout 
ing forth any reference to our Glorious Constitu 
tion, to the noble purity of our independent voters, 
or the unimpeachable integrity of our independent 
members. Having withstood such strong attacks 
upon my fortitude, it is possible that I may be of 
a cold and insensible temperament, amounting to 
icyness, in such matters ; and therefore my im 
pressions of the live pillars of the Capitol at 
Washington must be received with such grains of 
allowance as this free confession may seem to 
demand. 

Did I see in this public body, an assemblage of 
men, bound together in the sacred names of 
Liberty and Freedom, and so asserting the chaste 
dignity of those twin goddesses, in all their discus 
sions, as to exalt at once the Eternal Principles 
to which their names are given, and their own 
character, and the character of their countrymen, 
in the admiring eyes of the whole world 2 

It was but a week, since an aged, grey-haired 



288 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

man, a lasting honour to the land that gave him 
birth, who has done good service to his country, 
as his forefathers did, and who will be remembered 
scores upon scores of years after the worms bred 
in its corruption, are but so many grains of dust 
it was but a week, since this old man had stood for 
days upon his trial before this very body, charged 
with having dared to assert the infamy of that 
traffic, which has for its accursed merchandize 
men and women, and their unborn children. Yes. 
And publicly exhibited in the same city all the 
while; gilded, framed and glazed; hung up for 
general admiration ; shown to strangers not with 
shame, but pride ; its face not turned towards the 
wall, itself not taken down and burned ; is the 
Unanimous Declaration of The Thirteen United 
States of America, which solemnly declares that 
All Men are created Equal ; and are endowed by 
their Creator with the Inalienable Rights of Life, 
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness ! 

It was not a month, since this same body had 
sat calmly by, and heard a man, one of themselves, 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 289 

with oaths which beggars in their drink reject, 
threaten to cut another's throat from ear to ear. 
There he sat, among them ; not crushed by the 
general feeling of the assembly, but as good a man 
as any. 

There was but a week to come, and another of 
that body, for doing his duty to those who sent 
him there ; for claiming in a Republic the Liberty 
and Freedom of expressing their sentiments, and 
making known their prayer ; would be tried, found 
guilty, and have strong censure passed upon him 
by the rest. His was a grave offence indeed ; for 
years before, he had risen up and said, tc A gang 
of male and female slaves for sale, warranted to 
breed like cattle, linked to each other by iron 
fetters, are passing now along the open street 
beneath the windows of your Temple of Equality ! 
Look!" But there are many kinds of hunters 
engaged in the Pursuit of Happiness, and they go 
variously armed. It is the Inalienable Right of 
some among them, to take the field after their 
Happiness, equipped with cat and cartwhip, stocks, 

VOL. I. U 



290 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

and iron collar, and to shout their view halloa ! 
(always in praise of Liberty), to the music of 
clanking chains and bloody stripes. 

Where sat the many legislators of coarse threats; 
of words and blows such as coalheavers deal upon 
each other, when they forget their breeding ? On 
every side. Every session had its anecdotes of 
that kind, and the actors were all there. 

Did I recognise in this assembly, a body of men, 
who applying themselves in a new world to correct 
some of the falsehoods and vices of the old, puri 
fied the avenues to Public Life, paved the dirty 
ways to Place and Power, debated and made laws 
for the Common Good, and had no party but their 
Country ? 

I saw in them, the wheels that move the meanest 
perversion of virtuous Political Machinery that the 
worst tools ever wrought. Despicable trickery at 
elections ; under-handed tamperings with public 
officers; cowardly attacks upon opponents, with 
scurrilous newspapers for shields, and hired pens for 
daggers ; shameful trucklings to mercenary knaves, 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 291 

whose claim to be considered, is, that every day and 
week they sow new crops of ruin with their venal 
types, which are the dragon's teeth of yore, in every 
thing but sharpness ; aidings and abettings of every 
bad inclination in the popular mind, and artful 
suppressions of all its good influences : such things 
as these, and in a word, Dishonest Faction in its 
most depraved and most unblushing form, stared 
out from every corner of the crowded hall. 

Did I see among them, the intelligence and 
refinement : the true, honest, patriotic heart of 
America I Here and there, were drops of its blood 
and life, but they scarcely coloured the stream of 
desperate adventurers which sets that way for 
profit and for pay. It is the game of these men, 
and of their profligate organs, to make the strife 
of politics so fierce and brutal, and so destructive 
of all self-respect in worthy men, that sensitive 
and delicate-minded persons shall be kept aloof, 
and they, and such as they, be left to battle out 
their selfish views, unchecked. And thus this 
lowest of all scrambling fights goes on, and they 
u 2 



292 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

who in other countries would, from their intelli 
gence and station, most aspire to make the laws, 
do here recoil the farthest from that degradation. 
That there are, among the representatives of the 
people in both Houses, and among all parties, 
some men of high character and great abilities, I 
need not say. The foremost among those politicians 
who are known in Europe, have been already de 
scribed, and I see no reason to depart from the 
rule I have laid down for my guidance, of ab 
staining from all mention of individuals. It will 
be sufficient to add. that to the most favourable 
accounts that have been written of them, I more 
than fully and most heartily subscribe ; and that 
personal intercourse and free communication have 
bred within me, not the result predicted in the 
very doubtful proverb, but increased admiration 
and respect. They are striking men to look at, 
hard to deceive, prompt to act, lions in energy, 
Crichtons in varied accomplishment, Indians in 
fire of eye and gesture, Americans in strong and 
generous impulse ; and they as well represent the 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 293 

honour and wisdom of their country at home, as 
the distinguished gentleman who is now its minister 
at the British Court sustains its highest character 
abroad. 

I visited both houses nearly every day, during 
my stay in Washington. On my initiatory visit 
to the House of Representatives, they divided 
against a decision of the chair ; but the chair won. 
The second time I went, the member who was 
speaking, being interrupted by a laugh, mimicked 
it, as one child would in quarrelling with another, 
and added, "that he would make honourable gentle 
men opposite, sing out a little more on the other side 
of their mouths presently." But interruptions are 
rare ; the speaker being usually heard in silence. 
There are more quarrels than with us, and more 
threatenings than gentlemen are accustomed to 
exchange in any civilised society of which we have 
record ; but farm-yard imitations have not as yet 
been imported from the Parliament of the United 
Kingdom. The feature in oratory which appears 
to be the most practised, and most relished, is the 



294 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

constant repetition of the same idea or shadow of 
an idea in fresh words ; and the inquiry out of doors 
is not, " What did he say ?" but, <e How long did 
he speak ? " These, however, are but enlargements 
of a principle which prevails elsewhere. 

The Senate is a dignified and decorous body, 
and its proceedings are conducted with much 
gravity and order. Both houses are handsomely 
carpeted ; but the state to which these carpets 
are reduced by the universal disregard of the 
spittoon with which every honourable member is 
accommodated, and the extraordinary improve 
ments on the pattern which are squirted and 
dabbled upon it in every direction, do not admit 
of being described. I will merely observe, that I 
strongly recommend all strangers not to look at 
the floor ; and if they happen to drop anything, 
though it be their purse, not to pick it up with 
an ungloved hand on any account. 

It is somewhat remarkable too, at first, to say 
the least, to see so many honourable members 
with swelled faces ; and it is scarcely less remark- 



AND THE PRESIDENTS HOUSE. 295 

able to discover that this appearance is caused by 
the quantity of tobacco they contrive to stow 
within the hollow of the cheek. It is strange 
enough too, to see an honourable gentleman leaning 
back in his tilted chair with his legs on the desk 
before him, shaping a convenient " plug " with his 
penknife, and when it is quite ready for use, 
shooting the old one from his mouth, as from a 
pop-gun, and clapping the new one in its place. 

I was surprised to observe that even steady old 
chewers of great experience, are not always good 
marksmen, which has rather inclined me to doubt 
that general proficiency with the rifle, of which 
we have heard so much in England. Several gen 
tlemen called upon me who, in the course of con 
versation, frequently missed the spittoon at five 
paces ; and one (but he was certainly short 
sighted) mistook the closed sash for the open win 
dow, at three. On another occasion, when I dined 
out, and was sitting with two ladies and some 
gentlemen round a fire before dinner, one of the 
company fell short of the fire-place, six distinct 



296 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

times. I am disposed to think, however, that this 
was occasioned by his not aiming at that object ; 
as there was a white marble hearth before the 
fender, which was more convenient, and may have 
suited his purpose better. 

The Patent Office at Washington, furnishes an 
extraordinary example of American enterprise and 
ingenuity ; for the immense number of models it 
contains, are the accumulated inventions of only 
five years: the whole of the previous collection 
having been destroyed by fire. The elegant struc 
ture in which they are arranged, is one of design 
rather than execution, for there is but one side 
erected out of four, though the works are stopped. 
The Post Office, is a very compact, and very beau 
tiful building. In one of the departments, among 
a collection of rare and curious articles, are depo 
sited the presents which have been made from time 
to time to the American ambassadors at foreign 
courts by the various potentates to whom they were 
the accredited agents of the Republic : gifts which 
by the law they are not permitted to retain. I con- 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 297 

fess that I looked upon this as a very painful exhi 
bition, and one by no means flattering to the 
national standard of honesty and honour. That 
can scarcely be a high state of moral feeling which 
imagines a gentleman of repute and station, likely 
to be corrupted, in the discharge of his duty, by the 
present of a snuff-box, or a richly-mounted sword, 
or an Eastern shawl ; and surely the Nation who 
reposes confidence in her appointed servants, is 
likely to be better served, than she who makes 
them the subject of such very mean and paltry 
suspicions. 

At George Town, in the suburbs, there is a 
Jesuit College ; delightfully situated, and, so far 
as I had an opportunity of seeing, well managed. 
Many persons who are not members of the Romish 
Church, avail themselves, I believe, of these institu 
tions, and of the advantageous opportunities they 
afford for the education of their children. The 
heights in this neighbourhood, above the Potomac 
River, are very picturesque ; and are free, I should 
conceive, from some of the insalubrities of Washing- 



298 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

ton. The air, at that elevation, was quite cool and 
refreshing, when in the city it was burning hot. 

The President's mansion is more like an English 
club-house, both within and without, than any 
other kind of establishment with which I can com 
pare it. The ornamental ground about it has 
been laid out in garden walks ; they are pretty, 
and agreeable to the eye ; though they have that 
uncomfortable air of having been made yesterday, 
which is far from favourable to the display of such 
beauties. 

My first visit to this house was on the morning 
after my arrival, when I was carried thither by an 
official gentleman, who was so kind as to charge 
himself with my presentation to the President. 

We entered a large hall, and having twice or 
thrice rung a bell which nobody answered, walked 
without further ceremony through the rooms on 
the ground floor, as divers other gentlemen 
(mostly with their hats on, and their hands in 
their pockets) were doing very leisurely. Some 
of these had ladies with them, to whom they were 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 2.99 

showing the premises ; others were lounging on 
the chairs and sofas ; others, in a perfect state of 
exhaustion from listlessness, were yawning drearily. 
The greater portion of this assemblage were rather 
asserting their supremacy than doing anything 
else, as they had no particular business there, that 
anybody knew of. A few were closely eyeing the 
moveables, as if to make quite sure that the Presi 
dent (who was far from popular) had not made 
away with any of the furniture, or sold the fixtures 
for his private benefit. 

After glancing at these loungers ; who were 
scattered over a pretty drawing-room, opening upon 
a terrace which commanded a beautiful prospect of 
the river and the adjacent country ; and who 
were sauntering too, about a larger state room 
called the Eastern Drawing-room; we went up 
stairs into another chamber, where were certain 
visitors, waiting for audiences. At sight of my 
conductor, a black in plain clothes and yellow slip 
pers who was gliding noiselessly about, and whis 
pering messages in the ears of the more impatient, 



300 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

made a sign of recognition, and glided off to 
announce him. 

We had previously looked into another chamber 
fitted all round with a great bare wooden desk or 
counter, whereon lay files of newspapers, to which 
sundry gentlemen were referring. But there were 
no such means of beguiling the time in this apart 
ment, which was as unpromising and tiresome as any 
waiting room in one of our public establishments, 
or any physician's dining-room during his hours of 
consultation at home. 

There were some fifteen or twenty persons in 
the room. One, a tall, wiry, muscular old man, 
from the west ; sunburnt and swarthy ; with a 
brown-white hat on his knees, and a giant umbrella 
resting between his legs ; who sat bolt upright in 
his chair, frowning steadily at the carpet, and 
twitching the hard lines about his mouth, as if he 
had made up his mind " to fix " the President on 
what he had to say, and wouldn't bate him a 
grain. Another, a Kentucky farmer, six-feet-six in 
height, with his hat on, and his hands under his 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. SOI 

coat-tails, who leaned against the wall and kicked 
the floor with his heel, as though he had Time's 
head under his shoe, and were literally " killing " 
him. A third, an oval-faced, bilious-looking man, 
with sleek black hair cropped close, and whiskers 
and beard shaved down to blue dots, who sucked 
the head of a thick stick, and from time to time 
took it out of his mouth, to see how it was getting 
on. A fourth did nothing but whistle. A fifth 
did nothing but spit. And indeed all these gen 
tlemen were so very persevering and energetic in 
this latter particular, and bestowed their favours 
so abundantly upon the carpet, that I take it for 
granted the Presidential housemaids have high 
wages, or, to speak more genteelly, an ample 
amount of " compensation : " which is the Ame 
rican word for salary, in the case of all public 
servants. 

We had not waited in this room many minutes, 
before the black messenger returned, and con 
ducted us into another of smaller dimensions, 
where, at a business-like table covered with 



302 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

papers, sat the President himself. He looked 
somewhat worn and anxious, and well he might : 
being at war with everybody but the expression 
of his face was mild and pleasant, and his manner 
was remarkably unaffected, gentlemanly, and 
agreeable. I thought that in his whole carriage 
and demeanour, he became his station singu 
larly well. 

Being advised that the sensible etiquette of the 
republican court, admitted of a traveller, like 
myself, declining, without any impropriety, an 
invitation to dinner, which did not reach me until 
I had concluded my arrangements for leaving 
Washington some days before that to which it 
referred, I only returned to this house once. It 
was on the occasion of one of those general 
assemblies which are held on certain nights 
between the hours of nine and twelve o' clock, and 
are called, rather oddly, Levees. 

I went, with my wife, at about ten. There was 
a pretty dense crowd of carriages and people in the 
court-yard, and so far as I could make out, there 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 303 

were no very clear regulations for the taking up 
or setting down of company. There were certainly 
no policemen to soothe startled horses, either by 
sawing at their bridles or nourishing truncheons 
in their eyes ; and I am ready to make oath 
that no inoffensive persons were knocked violently 
on the head, or poked acutely in their backs or 
stomachs ; or brought to a stand-still by any such 
gentle means, and then taken into custody for 
not moving on. But there was no confusion or 
disorder. Our carriage reached the porch in its 
turn, without any blustering, swearing, shouting, 
backing, or other disturbance ; and we dismounted 
with as much ease and comfort as though we had 
been escorted by the whole Metropolitan Force 
from A to Z inclusive. 

The suite of rooms on the ground-floor, were 
lighted up ; and a military band was playing in 
the hall. In the smaller drawing-room, the centre 
of a circle of company, were the President and his 
daughter-in-law, who acted as the lady of the 
mansion: and a very interesting, graceful, and 



304 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE. 

accomplished lady too. One gentleman who stood 
among this group, appeared to take upon himself 
the functions of a master of the ceremonies. I 
saw no other officers or attendants, and none were 
needed. 

The great drawing-room, which I have already 
mentioned, and the other chambers on the ground- 
floor, were crowded to excess. The company was 
not, in our sense of the term, select, for it compre 
hended persons of very many grades and classes ; 
nor was there any great display of costly attire : 
indeed some of the costumes may have been, for 
aught I know, grotesque enough. But the 
decorum and propriety of behaviour which pre 
vailed, were unbroken by any rude or disagreeable 
incident ; and every man, even among the mis 
cellaneous crowd in the hall who were admitted 
without any orders or tickets to look on, ap 
peared to feel that he was a part of the Institu 
tion, and was responsible for its preserving a 
becoming character, and appearing to the best 
advantage. 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 305 

That these visitors, too, whatever their station, 
were not without some refinement of taste and 
appreciation of intellectual gifts, and gratitude to 
those men who, by the peaceful exercise of great 
abilities shed new charms and associations upon 
the homes of their countrymen, and elevate their 
character in other lands, was most earnestly testi 
fied by their reception of Washington Irving, my 
dear friend, who had recently been appointed 
Minister at the court of Spain, and who was among 
them that night, in his new character, for the first 
and last time before going abroad. I sincerely 
believe that in all the madness of American politics, 
few public men would have been so earnestly, de 
votedly, and affectionately caressed, as this most 
charming writer : and I have seldom respected a 
public assembly more, than I did this eager throng, 
when I saw them turning with one mind from noisy 
orators and officers of state, and flocking with a 
generous and honest impulse round the man of 
quiet pursuits : proud in his promotion as reflect 
ing back upon their country : and grateful to him 



VOL. I. 



306 WASHINGTON. THE LEGISLATURE, 

with their whole hearts for the store of graceful 
fancies he had poured out among them. Long 
may he dispense such treasures with unsparing 

hand ; and long may they remember him as 
worthily ! 



The term we had assigned for the duration of 
our stay in Washington, was now at an end, and 
we were to begin to travel ; for the railroad dis 
tances we had traversed yet, in journeying among 
these older towns, are on that great continent 
looked upon as nothing. 

I had at first intended going South to 
Charleston. But when I came to consider the 
length of time which this journey would occupy, 
and the premature heat of the season, which even 
at Washington had been often very trying ; and 
weighed moreover, in my own mind, the pain of 
living in the constant contemplation of slavery, 
against the more than doubtful chances of my 
ever seeing it, in the time I had to spare, stripped 



AND THE PRESIDENT'S HOUSE. 307 

of the disguises in which it would certainly be 
dressed, and so adding any item to the host of facts 
already heaped together on the subject ; I began 
to listen to old whisperings which had often been 
present to me at home in England, when I little 
thought of ever being here ; and to dream again 
of cities growing up, like palaces in fairy tales, 
among the wilds and forests of the west. 

The advice I received in most quarters when I 
began to yield to my desire of travelling towards 
that point of the compass was, according to custom, 
sufficiently cheerless : my companion being threat 
ened with more perils, dangers, and discomforts, 
than I can remember or would catalogue if I could ; 
but of which it will be sufficient to remark that 
blowings-up in steam-boats and breakings down in 
coaches were among the least. But, having a 
western route sketched out for me by the best 
and kindest authority to which I could have 
resorted, and putting no great faith in these dis 
couragements, I soon determined on my plan of 
action. 



308 WASHINGTON. 

This was to travel south, only to Richmond in 
Virginia ; and then to turn, and shape our course 
for the Far West ; whither I beseech the reader's 
company, in a new volume. 



END OP VOL. I. 



LONDO V : 
BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, \VHrtEFRIARS. 






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